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Our 3rd and 4th days we’re spent camping and canoeing through Santa Elena Canyon. This was a captivating experience and immediately I knew it wouldn’t be our last trip.

Canyon walls framed this star shot at 3am

Canyon walls framed this star shot, cropping Orion at 3am

Light floods in over the walls and then in the next bend your floating in shadows. This presented it’s own challenges shooting with my Sony a6000 as I am using all old full manual Nikkor 25mm and 35mm prime lenses. These lenses are great for static shots, but with our boat moving and then our river partners boat moving it wasn’t easy to get the focus dialed. Thus, most of my “action” shots didn’t make it into this batch of photos. I do really enjoy the subtle cool whites these lenses achieve though, seen in the photograph below @ right corner.

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My favorite co-pilot Michelle, steady’s the boat for a river portrait.

 

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Our campsite for night 3, now bathed in morning light

Once the sun broke over the East canyon wall Kody jumped in for an invigorating morning bath

Once the sun broke over the East canyon wall Kody jumped in for an invigorating morning bath

 

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Each bend in the canyon offers a new cascade of light and shadow

Kody and Jenny worked together and steered their 1980’s Mohawk canoe through a bunch of fun Class I & II rapids

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Scouting Rock Slide Rapid

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The river walls are full of features torn into the canyon

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At the canyon’s end, lines in the walls sending you out into the park.

One more entry of photographs to come, all detail shots from the trip! Check back shortly…

Double Exposure, spinning eclipse

Double Exposure, Spinning Eclipse

Michelle and I had done a number of extended trips on the water, but this was our first multi-day excursion in our new old canoe. Paddling through Big Bend National Park, we went from Lajitas through Santa Elena Canyon with our friends Kody and Jenny, soaking in vast starscapes, glowing canyon walls and some fun Class II water. My goal for the trip was to find some desert inspiration for photos and sketches, enjoy the company of good friends and immerse ourselves in Big Bend’s border waterway the Rio Grande.

Kody lights up the wall while firelight dances orange through the canyon.

At camp, Kody lights up the wall while firelight dances orange through the canyon.

Loaded down with our gear for a 4 day trip luckily didn’t have to make any significant portages. I had done a lot of new outfitting to the boat to ready for the trip so everything went real smooth and comfy. Organized and prepared we were able to focus on the views and relaxing. Each night our campsites continued to impress us and since we accomplished a 2-3 day trip in 3-4 days we got to spend nearly 2 whole days inside of the canyon. Camping in the canyon was an incredible experience, scroll down to see some of my favorite photos from the trip.

Starting the trip with clear skies and still water.

Starting the trip with clear skies and still water.

 

Setting up our first campsite at dusk

Setting up our first campsite at dusk

 

We awoke to stomping horse hoofs

We awoke to stomping horse hoofs. Rounding our tent and then narrowly passing by this mother horse tried to distract us from her colt across the river.

Excited for day 2, our canoe was ready to float us onward

Excited for day 2, our canoe was ready to float us onward

 

A shallow rapid awaited us at each river bend, most of which at this low flow rate pushed straight into the rivers walls. Here Kody and Jenny navigate one of the more rewarding rapids of the day near a confluence.

A shallow stony rapid awaited us at each river bend, most of which at this low 200cfs  flow rate would push straight into the river’s walls. Here Kody and Jenny navigate one of the more rewarding rapids of the day near a confluence just above our second campsite.

 

Today as it happened was Thanksgiving, so a tasty meal of stuffing, taters, summer sausage and gravy was served up. Great way to celebrate the holiday with friends and a warm sunset.

Today as it happened was Thanksgiving, so after a refreshing skinny dip in the Rio Grande, a tasty meal of stuffing, taters, summer sausage and gravy was served up. Great way to celebrate the holiday with friends and a warm sunset.

 

This was my first chance on the trip to shoot some night shots, since on day one I crawled into my tent at 8PM and crashed…

 

I shot with a few prime lenses this trip, this one a 35mm, so tried to do my cropping by moving forward and backward of the subject. I was excited about this composition reminding me of the small scenes from the corners of landscape romanticism paintings.

 

Rain was in the forecast this morning, as we woke up to a light drizzle. We went on a day hike out to a bluff and a nearby slot canyon.

Rain was in the forecast this morning, as we woke up to a light drizzle. We went on a day hike out to a bluff and a nearby slot canyon. Michelle poses with her trusty “snack pack”, cheesing it up for the camera with Jenny. Traveling with Michelle is a constant inspiration to stop and enjoy the details of what is around you. Here she teaches us about Resurrection moss and leafing Ocotillo.

 

Barrel cactus sprouts and retains water in this harsh scape

Beautiful pink thorny Barrel cactus sprouts and retains water in this harsh scape

PART 2 posting soon: entering the canyon via canoe, more night shots, impressive canyon views and some sketches to share.

All shots are taken manual from a Sony a6000 with a suite of vintage 25mm & 35mm prime lenses.

New work from my studio. This is a new ongoing series of charcoal drawings based on memory and using on-site sketches to recall selective elements of space and time. I am really excited about these new works and ideas I have for showing them to create a unique experience for the viewer.

Colorado Trail 1

Chimborazo 1

Valles Caldera 1

Toolik 1

El Moro

El Moro, Detail

El Moro, Detail

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West Contrabando Dark Sky Site

We recently spent a long weekend in Big Bend soaking in the massive night skies and glowing morning sunrises out of our tent.

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Lunch time view between rides, Pen and Ink, BBRSP

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Love this candid of Michelle looking up from the mine shaft

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Big Bend Ranch SP has an abandoned mercury mine out in the park to explore

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Sun baked textures in the desert

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View from Big Bend National Park Hot Springs, Pen and Ink

Everything is exposed and sun baked. Topographic features visibly exist on the mountainsides undisturbed by trees. Trails here are dynamic and range from fast flowing, to rocky scree, to jeep roads. The light is dynamic and fun to photograph and the distances enjoyable to sketch from rare spots of shade.
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Michelle and her CHUMBA URSA on Crystal mtn trail, yes, those are all quartz crystals!

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The mine area has some cool artifacts like this ole’Chevy

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Kept my map handy in my Wanderlust Gear Rattlesnake bag, sweet patch from Everything Will Be Noble thanks to Brent Knepper!

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Recent fire damage in the Big Bend Nat. Park, native plants will likely come back strong and happy with new seeds being activated by the fires to grow.

I recently sent off a piece to Grizzly Grizzly in Philadelphia as a part of their founding members show. A group of art friends and I started Grizzly Grizzly a number of years ago to showcase compelling artists from around the world. We decided to keep ourselves removed from showing our own work so that we could focus on the curatorial process and remove our egos from the common vanity gallery collective.

We wanted to do something unconventional and unlike other art venues in the Philadelphia area. It was a real push for me to celebrate artists so different from my own work. I think that was the most rewarding experience. We gathered a diverse group of members to push ourselves in unique directions that a typical gallery would not. It was a way for us to view the art we wanted to see and champion.

I left the collective back in 2010 when I moved to Austin, TX. I miss putting on shows with Grizzly Grizzly, we had a great time and it was a fulfilling experience. Its makes me so happy to see the space thriving. Thanks to the current members for inviting us to show and for all of their hard work continuing to grow what we began!

Read the show’s review by Knight Arts, and of my piece. “Galbraith”: http://www.knightarts.org/community/philadelphia/to-all-the-girls-ive-loved-before-grizzly-grizzly

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Sketch From Alaska

 

 

After so much technical plying with the camera I needed to loosen up with some field studies.

On Christmas morning, Santa brought a new sketchbook! Here’s a photo of a longer sketch using the field study from the video as a reference, drawn with Faber Castell PITT pens on 14″x11″, All Media Paper.

I hope everyone enjoyed a great holiday! I’m thankful I was able to spend mine with family, friends and sketchbooks.

Ink Sketch