Category Archives: America

Slot canyons in Utah & Arizona

This is the top of a slot canyon. Doesn’t look like much. Not from the outside anyway…

slot-from-above

But all that changes on the inside. It’s like stepping into a different world, literally.

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Colour, form, texture, line, flow. A photographer’s paradise. Impossible not to feel awestruck.

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These are the slot canyons of Utah and Arizona; part of the photographic tour I lead to the US in October in conjunction with aspect2i.co.uk

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The beauty is all underground… I can’t wait to do it all over again in October 2017. If you fancy joining me, check out the dates and sign up!

Processed with Snapseed.

 

 


Come to a photographer’s paradise – Utah and Arizona

The US West might not be as wild as it once was, but it’s still got some of the most dramatic scenery on earth. For any photographer interested in landscape this is right at the top of the bucket list. The views here are breathtaking, indeed awesome, in the true sense of the word…

Horseshow bend

Horseshoe Bend

I’m leading a photographic workshop with Paul Gallagher from Aspect2i to Arizona and Utah later this year (6-15th October). We will travel from the grand vistas of Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, through Zion Park and Bryce Canyon to the hidden gems of Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. A trip from the dramatic to the sublime.

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Monument Valley

 

Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon

 

We will photograph the hoodoos, mesas, buttes, rock formations, the rivers and the valleys. We will have private tours of Mystery Valley to visit the Native American cave dwellings. We will visit the famous slot canyons near Page, but also have a private guide to some of the not so famous slot canyons that the crowds can’t get to.

Lady in the Rock. Lower Antelope Canyon

Lady in the Rock. Lower Antelope Canyon

 

Dried mud, Wirepass Gulch

Dried mud, Wirepass Gulch

 

Sandfall

Sandfall

 

Chief

Chief

 

 

Tree in Zion Park

Tree in Zion Park

 

Dusk in Zion Park

Dusk in Zion Park

 

Bryce Canyon amphitheatre

Bryce Canyon amphitheatre

 

The trip is timed to coincide with the Fall, so we will get the best possible colour in the landscape. The American South West is simply stunning. It’s a photographer’s paradise. If you’re interested and want to know more, then get in contact with me, or look at Aspect2i’s webpage. I can promise you dramatic photographs and memories to last a life-time (and I can get you a discount on the list price of the tour too!)

One of the Mittens, Monument Valley

One of the Mittens, Monument Valley

 


Arizonan Curves and Colour

When I was growing up I never, ever, thought I would say something like this: I love a good rock. But it’s true. Some of the most spectacular awe-inspiring things I’ve photographed are… rocks! Look, here’s a lion bursting out of the rock…
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What happened to my rock and roll youth? It must be age (middle, I hasten to add, and only just…), a greater awareness of surroundings, context, time. And a growing appreciation of natural beauty.

 

Lower antelope6

 

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These curves, swirls, and flows all come from the slot canyons near Page in Arizona. The rocks look alive, full of movement and colour. These pics aren’t tweaked – this colour is real. One of the most spectacular places on the planet – almost not of this planet: otherworldly.

 

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I loved photographing in this place so much that I’m going back there in Oct next year to lead a photographic workshop. Check it out if you’re interested: http://www.aspect2i.co.uk/intermediate-level-yosemite-national-park-photography-ID115.html  Six guests plus two workshop leaders (myself and Paul Gallagher). It’s going to be awesome!

 

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Ojai Valley Inn, an oasis within an oasis…

Mrs P is quite adamant, and Ms P is in full support: A holiday needs some luxury, or else it’s not a real holiday. And luxury means spa treatments, shopping and cocktails (although we try to hold Ms P back from the latter, as she’s only 14…)
Seat

And there’s no better place for all these indulgences than a real American country club retreat. So we went to one. Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, in California. Rather nice, too.

 

Signpost

The eagle eyed may spot a sign to the ‘Fragrance Courtyard’, an oasis within an oasis, where ladies can create perfumes, bottle them and bring them home, for a small fee.

 

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Rooms

Whilst the girls were being girls, the boys stuck to being boys. So leaving the ladies to their olfactory creativity, Grandad, Peck Jnr and I smacked a few balls round a fantastic golf course (I won – and that may be the only time I’m able to write that so I’m taking the honours whilst I can). All topped off with exquisite meals in exquisite restaurants.

 

45 ft putt, and GD gets it in!

45 ft putt, and GD sunk it!

Golfers

Whilst others slept into the morning I rose early to make the most of the delightful swimming pool. Swim a mile in the morning means there’s no harm in indulging in a mojito or 6 in the evening.

 

Pool

 

Succulent

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Refreshment by the pool was frozen grapes, cold and sweet. Heaven in the high nineties.

 

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It was difficult, almost painful, to tear ourselves away from this Eden. The golf, the perfume, the restaurants, the pool, the mojitos, the frozen grapes – they are all calling us to return and one day we shall. Like the ex-Governor of C, I’ll be back….

 

Sunset

 


Oh yes America! We are all Stars!!!

Oi, Kim! Hands off my boy! He’s too young for you! Well what can you say. Three exclamation marks may well be too much for a first line, but I mean, the cheek of the girl,…..! (4)

 

She's stalking my boy!

She’s stalking my boy!

And then there’s Grandad… He’s a bad boy. Cuddling up to the big stars. He’s got that LA look about him…!

He's a rapper...

He’s a rapper…

But in this family it’s the girls that really strut their stuff. I mean look at Granny. She’s showing leggy RuPaul how to do it. Too many nights at Madame JoJo’s if you ask me (Granny that is, not RP)

What legs!

What legs!

This sort of behaviour has clearly been passed down through the generations. Here’s the next one down. Cleavage or what!

Mmmm, impressive.

Mmmm, impressive.

Not to be outdone (frankly, Immy is never going to be outdone) comes the current generation. All technophile and selfie obsessed. Narcissus-like.

Ur-selfie? Selfie squared?

Ur-selfie? Selfie squared? Who’s looking at whom?

I’m not getting left out! Yes, I want my own 15 seconds (I don’t get minutes) of fame. Yes, Justin, it’s you and me! Stuff the Beliebers, where are the Peckerettes?!?!?!?!

Cool dude, definitely!

Cool dude, definitely!

(19 exclamation marks in one short blog. Surely that’s a record?)    ! (20)


Bear Grylls – Don’t feed the animals!

I keep telling my family that actually I’m Bear Grylls – I even have a t-shirt that proclaims such – but to no avail. Much chortling and ironic laughter comes my way, and I am roundly ridiculed. This is the inevitable lot of the pater familias, and I treat the sarcasm with much forbearance…

Brown bear, Yosemite

Brown bear, Yosemite

Nevertheless, I do try to prove my point, and on our recent Californian holiday I pointed out to the sceptics in the family the abundance of wildlife around them. Yosemite was all about the bears. I saw 6. The family saw none – too lazy, looking the wrong way, too loud. Scared them all off. I ask you!

Pooh, off for a stroll

Pooh, off for a stroll

 

(We have lots of deer in Epping Forest too, but no mountains)

(We have lots of deer in Epping Forest too, but no mountains)

Better luck was had in Monterey. The whales took pity on the rest of my non-Bear Grylls family and came up close so the family couldn’t miss them. This was about 100 yards off the beach!

Humpback whale, humping its back

Humpback whale, humping its back

 

Dolphins riding the bow wave

Dolphins riding the bow wave

 

Fulmar, so fat with fish it can't take off

Fulmar, so fat with fish it can’t take off

HEY! did you see the BBC show from Monterey Bay just recently? The Big Blue. That’s where we were. The BBC’s been following us! OK, so they got pics of Gt Whites and Blue Whales which I didn’t. But they shamefully skipped over the Elephant Seals, which I forced the sceptical family to admire…

Blimey, they stink and they snore!

Blimey, they stink and they snore!

 

Dust bath

Dust bath

And being very Bear, I loved the hummingbirds as an antidote to all the hugeness everywhere else in California.

Breakfast with hummingbirds

Breakfast with hummingbirds

 

So, having suffered much abuse, mockery and derision, I think it very Bear of me still to feed the rest of the family. Careful of course! Feeing the animals is dangerous, especially as they can bite.

Scofferette...

Scofferette… what an animal!

 

 


Half Dome – from dawn to dusk

OK, everyone’s seen pictures of Half Dome before. Ansel Adams did some quite good shots, Galen Rowell took a few snaps, it may even have become a bit of a cliche… But I don’t care! Here is my HD portrait, from dawn to dusk, and I’m proud of it…

Dawn breaks in Yosemite

Dawn breaks on Half Dome

 

I was just setting up this pic below when a bear swam across the river behind me. Missed the shot completely – so much for my action photographer skills…

 

Half Dome and Merced River

Early morning Half Dome and Merced River

 

I think some quite well-known photographer made this view famous. No clearing winter storm to light my pic, a slightly murky August day instead.

Midday Half Dome from Wawona Road

Midday Half Dome from Wawona Road

 

What a lump of rock this is! The closer you get, the bigger it gets. Not bad for a bit of granite.

 

Half Dome profile from Washburn Point

Half Dome profile from Washburn Point

 

 

It’s distinctive, like a face. This is more portrait photography than landscape…

The face of Half Dome

The face of Half Dome

Reflection at dusk

Reflection at dusk

The valley in shadow

The valley in shadow

 

And if the Yosemite Gods are kind then you get a bit of cloud for a final sunset image.

Half Dome from Olmsted Point

Half Dome from Olmsted Point

What beauty in a lump of granite. Spectacular…

 

 

 


Sunny days in Alcatraz – Scarface’s holiday home

Going to Alcatraz is one of those weird experiences: Macabre tourism. An exquisite shiver and a delight in the horror of others. Clearly we’re fascinated – you have to book months in advance to get a ticket – to visit the incarceration home of some of the most repugnant people in history.

 

Alcatraz in the sun

Alcatraz in the sun

This is not a nice man...

This is not a nice man…

Take Capone. A syphilitic cold blooded murderer, extortionist, pimp and bootlegger. Look at those eyes… not a pleasant man, best avoided. But we love the frisson of visiting his prison cell. And it’s all the weirder when the weather is warm and the sky is blue. Horror in heaven – it’s a Hollywood wet dream!

'Broadway', Alcatraz

‘Broadway’, Alcatraz

Cell block amenities

Cell block amenities

I loved the story about the showers: The prison governor, wary that cold showers would acclimatise the prisoners to the cold and thus possibly give them reason to test the San Francisco Bay waters in an attempt to escape, mandated hot showers only. The food was pretty good too. The company was not.

Communal showers

Communal showers

 

The sun shone when we were there. It really did feel like a summer excursion, the warmth, the boats and the sea. But the place itself… There’s a chill that hangs over Alcatraz, justifiably. I think the San Francisco fog is much more apt for this visit. It should be cold. Clammy. And ever so slightly threatening…

The view to the mainland

The view to the mainland

The watchtower, in summer sun

The watchtower, in summer sun

Penitentiary, now that's a word to describe this place.

Penitentiary, now that’s a word to describe this place.

 

 


California Road Tripping

If you like road tripping then America is the place. Especially if you get one of those enormously, humongously, massively large monster cars. Which is what I needed as I had wife, kids and ps-i-l in tow, so I hired a Chevy Suburban which can seat an army plus luggage (…don’t ask, 3 men + 3 WOMEN…), and off we trundled, down the coast of California.

The Lone Pine

The Lone Pine

Luckily, in between the malls of SF and LA, I was occasionally allowed to stop and take a pic or two. I know I know, the cliche images of Route 1, but hey, they’re still great to look at!

Bixby Bridge

Bixby Bridge

I rather fell in love with my Suburban. And I’m slightly worried that if I were American I would end up driving a truck. Where else do you want/need a car where the engine bonnet is at the height of your chest? But the bigness of these cars just seems to go with the place. Almost 2000 miles and I barely let Mrs P drive.

It's a mans car

It’s a man’s car

Due to the passengers, I had to curtail – severely – my desire to stop every 10 miles and take another photo. And I barely was allowed to use the tripod at all! So I had to content myself with the best known spots.

Bixby, close up.

Bixby, close up.

Play Misty For Me

Play Misty For Me

Not enough photography. I shall just have to go back and do it all over again by myself. But how, then, do I justify a Suburban….?


Burn Forest Burn

Posting about bucolic English countryside is all well and good (check it out: here), but for the opposite of Constable-esque pastoral it’s fun to whizz over to America. These images are from Bryce Canyon. Not the classic views, everyone does those – me too: here – rather these are looking away from the Canyon ridge, back down into the forest. And what a sight. Death and destruction everywhere…

Desolation amongst the trees

Desolation amongst the trees

Ponderosa pine, dead

Ponderosa pine, dead

These images are infra red, converted to black/white. They become punchier, contrastier. Starker. Suits the mood of the wounded forest…

Smashed apart by fire

Burnt

This tree will not recover

No recovery

Starkness

Nothing left

But even though the forest has been scarred by the lightning fires, there is still hope. The fire was in ’09, and slowly the forest is recovering. This is Bryce last autumn. So after 5 years there are new shoots. The forest never gives up, hope springs eternal. The reflectance of foliage in infra red means it goes white – exuberant and new. Rather fitting, I think…

new life

new life