Wednesday, April 2, 2014

5 Steps to Prepare for Camping, Travel and Photo Adventures

Preparation for travel and photography:

  1. Get Inspired
  2. Choose a location
  3. Research online
  4. Make reservations
  5. Prepare camera gear
  6. Get out and STAY out.

Get Inspired.

I love looking at great art and great photography; I visit galleries, museums, and "follow" artists online.  For this week's travel, to Arizona, my main inspiration is to see the Dale Chihuly Gardens and Glass exhibit at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix.
A friend of mine visited the Chihuly exhibition and these are some of her beautiful images.
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Chihuly in the Garden
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Chihuly in the Garden
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Chihuly in the Garden

More Inspiration

Photography by Jody Forster
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Jody Forster, the Superstition Mountains
All Jody Forster images are screenshots from her work at Andrew Smith Gallery in Santa Fe. ©Jody Forster
All Jody Forster images are screenshots from her work at Andrew Smith Gallery in Santa Fe. ©Jody Forster
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Jody Forster, Organ Pipe Cactus National Park
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Jody Forster, the Superstition Mountains

Choose a location: Research, Make Reservations

For this trip to Arizona, I chose to camp at the Lost Dutchman State Park.  Located near Apache Junction, AZ in the Superstition Mountains, this location was reviewed by the Wheeling It blog I follow.  Nina from "Wheeling It" is a full-time blogger and helpful with her campground reviews and also posts wonderful photos.  Photographing the Southwest, by Laurent Martres, is a great resource too for "right time, right place" photo locations in Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. In Volume 2, there are a few suggestions for photography at the Lost Dutchman.
Past photography excursions to Southern Arizona have included Saguaro National Monument, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and lots of trips to Sedona, Phoenix and Tucson.

Prepare Camera Gear

I recently sent my cameras in to Nikon for firmware updates and sensor cleaning.  I am camping at a location that will allow me nightly battery charging.  My gear will include:
  1. Nikon D300
  2. Nikon D5300 (brand spanking new), no, it's not full-frame, that purchase is in the near future.
  3. Nikon 16-85 lens
  4. Nikon 15-35 lens
  5. Nikon 55-300 lens
  6. Nikon flash
  7. iPad with 32GB
  8. iPhone 5
  9. Rav Power to extend storage on my iPad to 64GB and charge my phone.
  10. Tripod
  11. Monopod
  12. Reading materials on my iPad (kindle books)
  13. Photographing the Southwest by Laurent Martres

Get out and STAY out

My motto.  So until I'm full time retired, I create long weekends.  The drive from Durango to the Lost Dutchman is 7.5 hours so I'm camping one night at Canyon de Chelly National Monument and will enjoy 1/2 day of photography at the Canyons. I called the Navajo Nation Parks service and checked on the campground for open sites.  The ranger was helpful and told me there's plenty of room these days.
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Next adventure:  Chasing the Light in Monument Valley. I'm teaching a photo workshop from April 28 through May 1st, based in Bluff Utah and Goulding's Lodge in Monument Valley.

Camping in Utah, Spring Winds

Spring weather in Utah

Normally, this is the kind of imagery I like to make while camping at Valley of the Gods
On a recent Photo Workshop, I taught the technique of sun stars in Valley of the Gods
I have been traveling out to Utah for the past 20 years.  And I consistently enjoy the weather, year round.  Spring is a special time in the desert.  It's the beginning of wildflower season, and I often teach Wilds and Anasazi Ruin Photography.  This past weekend was the exception.  I didn't dare take my DSLR camera gear out of the car.  The spring weekend started with a glorious evening of hiking, a night of star gazing, followed by a morning of art making at camp.  And then it began...

Our first evening at camp including a walk along Lime Creek.  Here's Moochie enjoying the water in the Canyon.

A friend hiking in Lime Creek

My nephew was visiting from New York and we made some art together at camp.

As I looked south into the Navajo Reservation lands, I could see the approaching wind.  We hurried to "batten down the hatches" before it hit.  The gust were epic.  The sustained winds were at least 40mph and we were able to gather most of the camp and run into our rigs for the afternoon and evening.

Looking north from inside my camper

We called it "Camp Blownapart"

The sand blew for hours and the sky turned a red-rock color.  I dared not take out my DSLR.
After sunset we "ran" for the cover of my car and headed to town for dinner (no one wanted to cook).   As we drove out of Valley of the Gods, we stopped to check on a Popup camper that was flipped over.  This served to show me that I was lucky that my 3500 lb camper was strong enough and heavy enough, and that my friends 6500 lb Eurovan was too.

The town of Bluff was in a "black out" as the storm had blown over a handful of power poles which affected all the towns from Moab to Mexican Hat.  Lucky for us the Cottonwood Steak house was serving as they had propane barbecue and gas candles for the tables.