August 2021

“The perfect Storm”

Lightning crashes down over the orange and otherworldly landscape of Bryce Canyon National Park.


THE PREAMBLE

While awaiting our photography permits for the national parks, we holed up in Las Vegas for 2+ weeks.  Toward the end, our feet began to get itchy and our eyes felt like they were bleeding from all the time at the laptops. 

I warned Sophie during those long days at the keyboard that this “down time” was something to be cherished.  While it was a long time to be in one place, we were fortunate to have family willing to open their home and give us a comfortable place to work and recover.  

“This is the calm before the storm,” I told Sophie, “Utah is coming up next and we are going to be lucky to have even a moment to catch our breath.”

I had no idea just how literal and foreboding this statement would become!

Of all 50 states, Utah is my favorite for landscape photography (tied with my home-state of Oregon, of course).  The beauty of the American Southwest is so unique to any other place I have traveled.  Every time I visit, I cross off 50 places I wanted to see but discover another 50 I’ve missed.

And so, after a couple weeks of spending quality time with family, catching up on photos, creating travel guides, and preparing, we were finally back on the road.  There were approximately 6 weeks left of the Michelob Ultra Chief Exploration Officer journey with each of the Big 5 Utah National Parks up ahead.  Our map was dotted with countless slot canyons, waterfalls, and other scenic stops in between each that we hoped to explore.

With Snow Canyon, Red Cliffs, Kolob Terrace, Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks and at least 15 other stops taking up space on our memory cards and in our hearts, we arrived at Bryce Canyon National Park running on fumes.

THE STORY

The life of landscape photographers is a sleepless one.  Between late summer sunsets, nights out shooting the stars, and a sunrise alarm ever-looming, finding time to rest can be challenging.

We knew we had pushed our legs, hearts, and minds as far as we could as we began the drive from Cedar Breaks to Bryce Canyon.  It was time for a reset; time to get out of the van and into an air-conditioned hotel room. 

To say we were excited to arrive at the Bryce View Lodge would be an understatement.  It was pure relief.

We had already hiked about 8 miles that morning by the time we were handed the keys to our room outside the national park.  After a hot shower, a cold beer, and a moment of peace, we decided to go on a “scouting mission” of Bryce.

It was about 5pm: the plan was only to drive to the viewpoints and figure out where to shoot sunset, sunrise, and maybe a bit of Milky Way.  We should know better by now, but we don’t…

Somehow, we ended up walking another 3+ miles photographing the incredible light, textures, and geologic formations that make Bryce Canyon so remarkable.  Suddenly, it was sunset and our short scouting mission had consumed all of our free time.  

The Milky Way would be visible in about 70 minutes.  Several ideal compositions had already been scouted that had us excited.  Rather than enjoy the hotel and a night off, we were loading up the backpacks, putting on head torches, and hitting the trail for a night hike of astrophotography.

As we approached the trailhead, our plans changed for the second time that day already when a lightning bolt struck down in the distance beyond the Bryce Amphitheater. 

“I think we need to scrap the Milky Way shoot,” I said.  Without missing a beat, all Sophie replied was an enthusiastic “Yep!”.

We abandoned all the spots we had scouted and instead pushed our tired legs up and down the Queen’s Garden Trail while we endeavored to find photogenic foregrounds to include some of the distant lightning.  Milky Way would be around again tomorrow and most other nights, but getting a lightning storm was a gift that could not be wasted.

Around 11pm, we finally slumped into the van, hungry and exhausted.  Our quick scouting mission had become a 6-hour chase up and down Bryce Canyon.  Sitting on our camera memory cards lived incredible micro-moments of golden hour, sunset clouds, lightning bolts, and yes, even a series of moonlit scenes under the Milky Way.

THE AFTERTHOUGHTS

I am writing this August Moment from the comfort of our hotel on our second and final day here.  Sophie and I, feeling genuine anxiety about how far we have fallen behind with so many things, have agreed to take the entire day and catch up on some work.   No sunset, no Milky Way, just work or relaxation and nothing in between.

Then again, the clouds are balling up even as I type… perhaps another perfect storm has other ideas.

The Michelob CEO journey has had a lot of ups and downs as the more astute readers may have detected.  Fortunately, the final month is going to be the best of them.  We are finally into cooler climates and spectacular areas for exploration.  Sophie and I are simultaneously excited for the weeks to come yet relieved that it is all over on Oct 1.

Of course, we will be flying home just in time to begin working on the 2022 Calendar which will need to be completed with some urgency as we are getting a later start than last year.  

As mentioned, “sleep” is not a significant part of the life of travel and landscape photographers.

***

Before tying a bow on this month’s moment, I want to give a “thank you” and a shout-out to my good friend Patty.  She, like so many of you, discovered the Moment of the Month Club after following the WeOwntheMoment Photography Facebook Page for a while. 

Patty had lost some of her passion for photography during the transition from film to digital.  It was a spark that needed a bit of gasoline. 

Upon learning I was based in Southern Oregon, not far from her, she reached out to see if I would be willing to do some lessons.  Little by little, our student/teacher dynamic evolved into one of genuine friendship.  We had been trying to get out and shoot together for some time but the pandemic put a rapid stop to both our sessions and our plans to get the cameras out.

However, our day finally came when Patty met up with Sophie and I for a short day trip around Zion National Park.  For a whole day, Sophie and I got to enjoy company that was not our own and photograph just for us without consideration of Michelob or other projects.

I wanted to share this story as a real world example of why I love this club and appreciate those of you who take the time to read, subscribe, comment, and interact.  In an era where so much of our virtual interactions seem disingenuous, I feel truly blessed to have found a space where my work is embraced by such supportive people.

Thank you all.

FEATURED PHOTOS

Enjoy these additional photos taken in the month of August from our adventures in Southern Utah.

Those of you who chose the “ART LOVERS” membership can find your discount code for 10% off prints valid for any of these photos in your monthly email.

Want to order a print?  Continue to the Order Prints section below.

ORDER PRINTS

ALL FEATURED PHOTOS CAN BE ORDERED AS PRINTS!

Shop for Southern Utah Prints here.

With the link above, you can browse photos from August’s Moment of the Month, and have the choice of printing those that speak to you on traditional photo paper or metal.

Metal prints produce more vibrant colors, deeper contrast, and a three-dimensional aesthetic that accentuates the stylistic ethos of our photography.

If you see anything you like in this Moment of the Month that you cannot find on the gallery, just send us an email at: Info@WeDreamofTravel.com

Don’t forget: If you are subscribed as an ART LOVER, you will receive your monthly 10% off promo code via email.  Simply enter the promo code at checkout!

RELATED GUIDES

As we’ve been non-stop in Utah, we’ve only had time to publish a couple of blog posts on the area (although there are plenty to come!).  In the meantime, you may enjoy perusing some of our other recent blogs or some of our more general travel guides, even if it’s just to look at some pretty pictures 😉

New guides:

General travel and photography guides:

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This month’s Photo of the Month was “The Perfect Storm.”

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

Sophie and I are down to our final month as the Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Chief Exploration Officers and are drowning in photos as we explore the incredible American Southwest.

While it’s a little stressful for us, it’s good news for you as this means we will have a ton of amazing photos to share with you all soon.

Most importantly, the 2022 Calendar has been started and we hope to begin taking orders in October.  Unfortunately, we will not have time for the fan voting this year as our Michelob contract doesn’t give us enough time to orchestrate all of that.  Don’t worry, you will all receive a direct email when it is time for pre-orders 🙂

MOMENT OF THE MONTH FAQs

If you have any questions about the Moment of the Month club, you can find frequently asked questions and more information by clicking here.

If you have a question that is not covered, just send us an email or message on social media!


WE TRULY HOPE YOU’VE ENJOYED A BEHIND-THE-SCENES, GENUINE LOOK AT THE LIFE OF TWO FULL-TIME TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHERS.

Where to Next?

The Michelob ULTRA journey and the big gold van rolls through Southern Utah in our final month!

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