Travel Tip: Canadian Arctic

3B9A0815-Canadian Arctic LandscapesBy Mike Koopsen

The Canadian Arctic is one of the most remote regions in North America. A couple of years ago my wife and I took a trip there in hopes of seeing and photographing some wild musk-ox. We flew into Kuujjuaq, an Inuit community in Nunavik, Quebec, Canada, about 1,000 miles north of Montreal. The next day we boarded a floatplane and flew north to a mobile tent “spike” camp near the Ungava Bay, just east of Hudson Bay near the Arctic Circle. This area is enormous in size and extremely remote. Just before we landed in a small lake near our camp we could see the musk-ox herd in the distance moving across the tundra plains.

Male musk-ox

Male musk-ox

Each morning after breakfast one or two of the guides would take a small group of us by boat to an area where we hoped to find the musk-ox herd. Some days we hiked miles and miles across the tundra looking for them while enjoying the incredible wilderness landscapes. When we did see them we had to be very quiet and non-threatening so they would not run away. We were told that today’s musk-ox are descendants of animals that have been in North America for as much as 200,00 years. Adult musk-ox average around 4–5 feet high at the shoulder and the females are typically 4–6 feet in length while the males are usually 6–8 feet in length. They can weigh between 400 and 900 pounds. Their wool, qiviut, is known for its softness, length, and insulation qualities, and can cost between $40 and $90 an ounce. They usually live 12–20 years. Arctic and Tundra wolves are their primary predators and although we did not have an opportunity to see the wolves up close we did find their den and could hear their howling and vocalizing from our camp at night.

After dinner we would watch for the flocks of Canadian geese that would fly into the pond behind our tent to rest for the night and we would enjoy the sunsets in the twilight of the midnight sun. Afterwards, if the skies were clear, we would anxiously await the arrival of the Northern Lights.

3B9A1394-Sunset Reflections in the Arctic-

3B9A0969-Home Sweet Home in the Canadian Arctic

The daily temperatures while we were there at the end of August and the first week in September were in the mid-fifties with enough of a breeze to keep the black flies away. The nights were predictably cold, usually in the thirties, but the stars in the night skies were amazing to see. Overall it was quite an adventure.

Mike Koopsen of Trails Traveled Photography lives in Sedona. mikekoopsen@trailstraveledphotography.com

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Travel Tip: Canyonlands National Park

Druid Arch.

Druid Arch.

By Mike Koopsen

Some of the most scenic landscapes in the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park can be reached by using a number of fairly easy trails. There are a few loop trails to explore if you have the time but otherwise there are half day hikes that will get you to some of the more popular rock formations in the area. Some of these paths are challenging to follow so you need to pay close attention to signposts at the junctions, as well as the many trail markers (small piles of rocks stacked one on top of another) as you walk across the slickrock.

Chesler Park.

Chesler Park.

Squaw Flat Campground is probably one of the best trailheads to start your hike to Chesler Park, Druid Arch, or the Joint Trail, which are all awesome destinations. Rather than use this public campground we chose to get a backcountry permit and camp overnight for a couple of days at Chesler Park. This is a large sandy grassland area surrounded by vertical pinnacles and cliffs.

According to geologists these Needles District landscapes were formed by the erosion of red and white sandstone layers called Cedar Mesa Sandstone which could be as much as 280 million years old. The views are amazing and the formations were quite impressive.

Needles District.

Needles District.

The Joint Trail was one of the highlights of our trip. For about 1,000 feet the trail follows a dark walled ravine, not unlike a slot canyon. In some places the towering rock walls are almost sixty feet high and only two feet across. The wind speed generated in these narrow openings was exhilarating and inspiring.

Druid Arch was also very impressive. This unusually shaped arch is named for its resemblance to the large rocks seen at Stonehenge.

Remember to carry plenty of water with you on your hike since many of the trails are exposed and can be very hot especially in the summer.

Have fun and be safe.

Mike Koopsen of Trails Traveled Photography lives in Sedona. mikekoopsen@trailstraveledphotography.com

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What We’re Reading

all-the-lightAll the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
review by Caroline Cook

I had been wanting to read All the Light We Cannot See for a while, so when I spotted it at the library I grabbed it. A woman passing by immediately commented what a good book it is. It won the Pulitzer Prize as well as other accolades. I was not disappointed. Doerr’s World War II narrative, split between a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy, is hypnotic. His beautiful language draws the reader into each story deeply. The two protagonists experience the war on opposite sides but are also intwined, sometimes in surprising ways, and increasingly as the novel progresses.

Marie-Laure’s world is beautifully realized and written, allowing us an intimate window into her experience. Her father carves meticulously accurate models of the places where they live so she may learn each street and shopfront by touch. She has a deep love of books, and devours giant Braille copies of novels like 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Werner lives in an orphanage with his sister and has a love and aptitude for radios, which is what sends him to eventually become a radio technician with the Nazis. However, Werner is not cast as a villain or a stereotypical Nazi (though there is another character in that vein). He is portrayed as a victim of circumstance who is swept along with Hitler’s great military machine.

There is also a mysterious and priceless jewel that could almost be considered a third character in the novel, that is a part of both Marie-Laure’s and Werner’s stories.

All the Light We Cannot See is one of the best books I’ve read in a while, and I’d highly recommend it.

 

ready-player-oneReady Player One, by Ernest Cline
review by Aaron Downey

A flurry of nerd pop-cultural homage, Ernest Cline’s first novel, Ready Player One, is my choice for someone to film immediately. I don’t often say such things about books I like; typically a good book is good enough for me. But if done properly, a film version of this could be extraordinary. And now it looks like it’s in the right hands: Steven Spielberg.

You might be sick of dystopian fiction, but this one takes you from the destroyed real world into the online fantasyland of the OASIS, where literally anything is possible. We are on our way there, as a society, so it’s fun to see what Cline has imagined for our near future.

Our hero, Wade Watts, is a young high schooler who prefers to jack into the OASIS and live his life as a “gunter” (or egg hunter) searching for the world’s greatest Easter egg: a multi-billion dollar fortune hidden in the OASIS by the cyber-universe’s deceased creator, James Halliday, a sort of Steve Jobs, Gary Gygax, Bill Gates, Willy Wonka, and the Wizard of Oz rolled into one. But this is not just a treasure hunt. Standing in Wade’s way is a corporate army intent on finding the egg and turning the OASIS into their own product, thus destroying it. As far as Wade and his friends are concerned, the fate of the universe—albeit the better, pixelated universe—is at stake.

Fans of 8-bit throwbacks and new 80’s homage pieces like Netflix’s brilliant Stranger Things will likely enjoy this book. If you played D&D and Pitfall or watched Ultraman and Voltron (like I did), you won’t help but smile at the many references. One could make complaints about the sometimes contrived plot of hunting for the egg and the following of clues, but one would be taking this quick and delightful read much too seriously.

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Travel Tip: Crater Lake

View from Crater Lake Lodge

View from Crater Lake Lodge

By Mike Koopsen

Crater Lake in Oregon is one of the most spectacular natural wonders that I have had the privilege to see. It has unbelievable blue water and is the deepest lake in the United States at almost 2000 feet. The volcanic lake water is quite pure since it has no streams flowing into it or out of it and its precipitation comes directly from snow and rain. Snow and ice can regularly be seen in June and both the East and West Rims can average over 40 feet of snow yearly. We stayed at the Crater Lake Lodge and had a wonderful time. Expect fantastic views but bring plenty of warm clothing even in the summer. Most visit the park from July through mid-September but it’s is open all year round even though some of the roads and facilities are closed as much as 8 months of the year.

Mike Koopsen of Trails Traveled Photography lives in Sedona. See more of his work here.

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Travel Tip: Paria Canyon

Hiking Paria Canyon

Hiking Paria Canyon. Photo by Mike Koopsen.

By Mike Koopsen

Hiking through some of the Paria Canyon (straddling the UT/AZ border) while crossing the Paria River multiple times, expect cold water, lots of slippery mud, and possibly quicksand. If you are unfortunate enough to get stuck the good news is that you will probably only sink up to your waist as I did a couple of times. Make sure you are hiking with a buddy as you might need some assistance in getting out of it. Hiking from the Whitehouse campground, just south of the Paria Ranger Station, downriver it is approximately 7 miles to the confluence where the Paria River intersects with Buckskin Gulch. It is a full day round trip hike to get back to the campground before dark so it is a good idea to practice time management as the hike back might take a little longer than the hike in. Look for some fantastic formations and beautiful desert varnished sandstone walls along the way. Enjoy and be safe.

 

Mike Koopsen of Trails Traveled Photography lives in Sedona. See more of his work here.

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Travel Tip: Navajo National Monument

Keet Seel, Navajo National Monument. Photo by Mike Koopsen.

Keet Seel, Navajo National Monument. Photo by Mike Koopsen.

By Mike Koopsen

The Navajo National Monument has two of the most impressive and well preserved Native American cliff dwellings that I have seen in the American Southwest. The Betatakin ruins can be seen from a distance after a short walk from the visitor center or on a ranger-led hiking tour into the beautiful Tsegi Canyon. This guided hike is limited to 25 permits per tour and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The five-mile round-trip hike can be a real challenge for some since you are descending over 700 feet into the canyon on the way to the ruin and then have to hike back after your visit there. Remember to bring plenty of water and snacks.

Keet Seel is the other ancestral pueblo that is accessible by hiking trail. Twenty permits a day are available for overnight campers or for day hikers. Advanced reservations and a backcountry permit are required for this hike. But unlike the Betatakin tour this is a self-guided hike. In addition, a short pre-hike orientation is mandatory the day before your 17-mile round-trip hike. This hike is usually only available from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Once you arrive at the site you need to contact the backcountry ranger who will then lead you on a guided tour. The buildings can easily be seen from below but you do have to climb up a steep ladder to access the pueblo. The magnificence of this village is unbelievable and it is a real adventure to visit this awesome area.

Mike Koopsen of Trails Traveled Photography lives in Sedona. See more of his work here.

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In Memoriam: Jake Page, Prolific Author and Editor

Rio Nuevo Publishers regrets the recent passing of Jake Page, an editor and author of more than fifty books, friend, and colleague to many in the book business for half a century.

jake-page-large

Courtesy of Jake and Susanne Page

Born in Boston in 1936, James Keena “Jake” Page Jr. was everything from a ranch hand to a hard-rock miner. Page graduated from Princeton in 1958 and received his Master of Arts degree in 1959 from New York University. He began his fifty-year career as editor for Doubleday’s Anchor Books, became editor for Natural History Press (1963–70), and then joined Smithsonian Magazine, where he edited and wrote articles well into the 1990s.

Hopi-Cvr-amazon Navajo-Cover amazon

In 1982 Page and his wife, photojournalist Susanne Anderson Page, published HOPI, an intimate portrait of the Hopi people, followed in 1995 by NAVAJO, also a beautifully illustrated book, both reprinted by Rio Nuevo Publishers. About that time he began writing detective novels and science books for the general reader, and continued to write about Native American culture, publishing In the Hands of the Great Spirit: The 20,000 year history of the American Indians (2003), Indian Arts of the Southwest with Rio Nuevo in 2009, and Uprising: The Pueblo Indians and the First American War for Religious Freedom in 2013.

It was an honor and a pleasure to work with him.

Indian Arts Cover   uprising-cvr-new-RGB

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Today’s Travel Tip — Sunset in Sedona

By Mike Koopsen

A beautiful Sedona sunset over Cathedral Rock by Mike Koopsen.

A beautiful Sedona sunset over Cathedral Rock by Mike Koopsen.

Sedona is well known for its beautiful red rock landscapes and panoramic vistas, and if you visit overnight, I would highly recommend finding a nice place to see the sunset.

Airport Mesa is one of the best choices for this experience because, from this elevated location, depending on the time of year, you will not only see the sun set in the West but you will be able to see how the rocks change color towards the end of the day. I usually recommend arriving at least twenty minutes before the official sunset time.

More often than not the skies are clear in Sedona, but on days with clouds in the West, the sunset colors can be magnificent. Pinks, oranges, golds, and reds can light up the clouds, and the experience can be very inspiring. Remember, sometimes the best colors of the sunset appear ten to fifteen minutes after the sun has set, so stick around and hope for some drama in the sky.

Mike Koopsen of Trails Traveled Photography lives in Sedona. See more of his work here.

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Another Visit with Sarah Dolliver

People's choice award. Sedona's red rocks by Sarah Dolliver.

People’s choice award. Sedona’s red rocks by Sarah Dolliver.

When we last spoke with Sarah Dolliver, she was the grand prize winner in our spring 2014 photo contest. Now, as the people’s choice winner in our fall 2015 contest, she shares an update about her life and work.

Dolliver says 2015 got off to a challenging start with a house remodeling project that had her living full-time in the master bedroom with her husband and three cats. She also served as the onsite general contractor for the project, so “I felt like I couldn’t leave,” she says. But once the house was finished, she made up for lost camera time with several trips and workshops.

Spring found her in the Texas Hill Country during blue bonnet season visiting a friend who drove her around and shared scenic places to shoot photographs. Later in the year she went to a workshop in White Sands, NM, and finally, Dolliver was able to do one of the trips on her bucket list, a solo drive to Yosemite. “I spent five days entirely alone in a state I didn’t know, and then had three solid days of shooting with the workshop in Yosemite,” she says. “I drove 1,600 miles alone, something I’ve never, ever done before.”

While workshops are exhausting, Dolliver enjoys the rigor. “You can be up two hours before sunrise to drive to the location, then you have to unload, set up, and shoot. You go back, download, eat, sometimes do critiques or a workshop session, and then go back to the field. You may stay out until 8:30. There’s lots of adrenaline and it takes a while to come down,” she says. “You can imagine how dog-tired you are at the end, but when you see the images, you’re ready to go back.”

Dolliver cites three main reasons she’s made workshops a part of her learning process.

  • She doesn’t like research, so she appreciates being able to go to a location with a guide. She can then go back later and explore on her own.
  • She enjoys learning from instructors whose work she respects.
  • She’s able to build connections with others who like the same things she does, and new friendships develop.

Besides workshops, Dolliver learns from reading books. “Light and composition are the two keys to good photos,” she says. The light before sunrise and after sunset is the most challenging for a landscape photographer, but it also makes for the most dramatic photos.

Being stuck at home for four months with the house project gave Dolliver time to work on her developing skills with Lightroom. “More than fifty percent of the work happens at the computer,” she says, and because she wasn’t shooting new images, she was able to go back and redevelop some of her old ones. “Determined” is a collection of plants growing in odd and difficult places.  “I find them inspiring. If that plant can make it there, then I can make it through my troubles.” She’s also been working on a collection of dead tree photos, which allows her hiking club to tease her about her “dead tree of the week” pictures.

In 2016, Dolliver has plans for four trips – she’ll spend time in March in the Valley learning to shoot wildflowers with her digital SLR, then in April she’ll attend a photo symposium in Moab. July will find her in the heart of the Rockies in Ouray, Colo. at a workshop, and then in late summer she’ll head back East to visit family, camera in tow. But mostly, you’ll find her out in nature. “It’s inspirational to be out in the ruggedness and beauty of the land, and to be able to share that is important.”

In that spirit of sharing, here’s a collection of Dolliver’s 2015 work.

“Bee on Viburnum” I captured this one in my own front yard. The viburnum is so fragrant when it blooms, and the bees love it. It was a bustle of activity. They didn’t even pay any attention to me near them.

“Bee on Viburnum” I captured this one in my own front yard. The viburnum is so fragrant when it blooms, and the bees love it. It was a bustle of activity. They didn’t even pay any attention to me near them.

The flowing lines of these graceful Canada geese caught my eye as these two came together for a moment. Usually it is not a good thing to merge subjects, but here it works because of the repeating lines and the separation by their natural coloring. My eye keeps on floating around their curved backs and supple necks.

The flowing lines of these graceful Canada geese caught my eye as these two came together for a moment. Usually it is not a good thing to merge subjects, but here it works because of the repeating lines and the separation by their natural coloring. My eye keeps on floating around their curved backs and supple necks.

I love patterns! And I think this shows it. Here is a lupine without blossoms. Its starburst leaves create the interest, as the subject and the background.

I love patterns! And I think this shows it. Here is a lupine without blossoms. Its starburst leaves create the interest, as the subject and the background.

Near Marble Falls, Texas, they call this the “Bluebonnet House” for the sea of bluebonnets that cover the lawn in front of it – not to mention the few paintbrush in this photo too. I was captivated by the rustic structure and the old farm equipment left to rust in the yard. Taken at dusk, it shows the twilight’s bluish hues, which only embellish the bluebonnets further.

Near Marble Falls, Texas, they call this the “Bluebonnet House” for the sea of bluebonnets that cover the lawn in front of it – not to mention the few paintbrush in this photo too. I was captivated by the rustic structure and the old farm equipment left to rust in the yard. Taken at dusk, it shows the twilight’s bluish hues, which only embellish the bluebonnets further.

I was excited to see Texas Hill Country for the first time this past spring. My hosts drove me all over. Near a subdivision, we came across these deer who were so tame and just a wee bit curious about what we were doing. I took this one handheld with my 300mm telephoto lens. Lucky shot!

I was excited to see Texas Hill Country for the first time this past spring. My hosts drove me all over. Near a subdivision, we came across these deer who were so tame and just a wee bit curious about what we were doing. I took this one handheld with my 300mm telephoto lens. Lucky shot!

About twenty miles from Austin is Hamilton Pool, a sunken grotto with a big waterfall. It was a difficult place to shoot, as the dark shadows and bright sky send the camera sensor askew. So I opted for some “intimate landscape” work, of which this is an example. I can still hear the splashing of the water!

About twenty miles from Austin is Hamilton Pool, a sunken grotto with a big waterfall. It was a difficult place to shoot, as the dark shadows and bright sky send the camera sensor askew. So I opted for some “intimate landscape” work, of which this is an example. I can still hear the splashing of the water!

At a small pullout off General's Highway in Sequoia National Park, I found the amazing Moment, were the clouds opened up and glory was raining down.

At a small pullout off General’s Highway in Sequoia National Park, I found the amazing Moment, were the clouds opened up and glory was raining down.

Below El Capitan flows the Merced River, the lifeblood of all flora in Yosemite Valley.

Below El Capitan flows the Merced River, the lifeblood of all flora in Yosemite Valley.

It’s often hard to take your eyes off the main attractions at Yosemite, and I’m glad I did here. We were at a large, nearly still part of the river below Half Dome. Its reflection was stunning. Yet over to the side were these bare trees, lit by the late day sun. And what a marvelous image they make!

It’s often hard to take your eyes off the main attractions at Yosemite, and I’m glad I did here. We were at a large, nearly still part of the river below Half Dome. Its reflection was stunning. Yet over to the side were these bare trees, lit by the late day sun. And what a marvelous image they make!

No, it’s NOT snow. It’s the gypsum sands that sparkle in the sun at White Sands, NM. These are worn footprints left by visitors in the previous days and now blurred by the wind. Light and shadow show you the sculpting done by the wind. And it’s another pattern.

No, it’s NOT snow. It’s the gypsum sands that sparkle in the sun at White Sands, NM. These are worn footprints left by visitors in the previous days and now blurred by the wind. Light and shadow show you the sculpting done by the wind. And it’s another pattern.

Daybreak! A magical time it is. Here, the sun rises over the mountain in the distance, its beams pointing to the soap yuccas. The deep tones of the sky and the blue cast on the white sand make the magic come through.

Daybreak! A magical time it is. Here, the sun rises over the mountain in the distance, its beams pointing to the soap yuccas. The deep tones of the sky and the blue cast on the white sand make the magic come through.

Another sunrise image I call the “Confluence of Day and Night.”  The golden rays of the rising sun set the white sand on fire and the full super moon sets in the distance. I feel honored to capture moments like this that viewers can revisit for a lifetime.

Another sunrise image I call the “Confluence of Day and Night.” The golden rays of the rising sun set the white sand on fire and the full super moon sets in the distance. I feel honored to capture moments like this that viewers can revisit for a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tom White: An Amateur Photographer With The Eye Of A Pro

White.Tom 1

Tom White

Tom White, the winner of our 2015 Fall photo contest, spent his working life in the music business, but he had another motivation besides paying the bills. “I enjoyed sharing music with others; it wasn’t just about dollars. It’s the same with my photography,” he says. He stresses that he’s an amateur when it comes to making money with his work, but his friends will tell you his skills approach those of any pro. He’s been sharing his work on the Rio Nuevo Facebook page, among others, for more than a year, and entered several photos in the contest.

Grand prize winner! Lockett Meadows by Tom White

Lockett Meadows

White’s winning image, of Lockett Meadows near Flagstaff, is special to him because a neighbor who later died was with him the day he took it. It was a perfect fall day, and the photo captures the deep indigo sky, along with the green and gold trees reflecting in the mirror-like pond. The judges especially liked the way the sky’s negative space traced the outline of the mountains in the pond.

Born in Colorado, White spent his early years in Estes Park, then moved with his family to Dallas; then to Fullerton, California; then to Lafayette, Louisiana, where he lived from sixth grade until college. His father was a chemistry professor at the University of Colorado, but then took a job with Mobil Oil. Through all of the moving around, his father taught him about nature, and it’s a passion that White nurtures to this day.

White.Sedona SunsetWhite.Rusty RoofWhite.Monsoon over SedonaWhite.Oak Creek

One of his other great loves is music, and after starting out as a clerk in a record store, he eventually went to work for RCA as a sales rep. “I went into the music business because I didn’t want to grow up,” he laughs. His odyssey continued with stops in Houston, Minneapolis, and Nashville, where he was the vice-president of sales for RCA Country. He finished his music career at Windham Hill. White enjoyed moving around. “I’ve learned something new from every place I’ve lived,” he says.

White (r) with John Denver.

White (r) with John Denver.

White (back right) with members of Poco.

White (back right) with members of Poco.

He especially appreciated spending time with the artists, many of whom were humble and down-to-earth. One he mentions is Yanni, who was willing to go bowling with the wives of Kmart buyers who were in Detroit for a meeting. White also talks about getting to know Martina McBride before she hit it big. “Her husband did sound for Garth Brooks, and she sold t-shirts at his shows,” he says. “Her make-up case was an old Barbie case.” White credits her strong will to make it in the business as one of the reasons she found success as a country music star.

Back surgery ended White’s thirty-year career in the music business in 2000. “I lost fifteen years to a bad back and had to retire at fifty,” he says. He bought a home on a lake in Wisconsin, but quickly tired of the snow and cold. He says he pondered moving to either Colorado or Northern Arizona, but “I didn’t want winter any more, so Colorado didn’t win.” He now makes his home in Cornville, near Sedona in the Verde Valley.

It wasn’t until he moved to Arizona that he took up photography as a hobby. “I went from going 24-7 to sitting in Sedona, which took an adjustment,” he says. He sold his watch and cell phone when he moved and was plenty happy to be without them, although he did finally break down and buy a cell phone this past year. “I would have every gadget in the world if I was still working,” he says.

Slide Rock State Park. White says this is one of his favorite 2015 images.

Slide Rock State Park. White says this is one of his favorite 2015 images.

In a place with such overwhelming natural beauty, it seemed like an easy jump to photography. “Rollie’s Camera [in Sedona] has been such a help to me as an amateur,” White says. He’s also learned by following some of the bigger names in photography, and Tom Kelly at Rollie’s is his mentor. He uses a Nikon 3300 body with three lenses: a Nikon 10-24mm, a Nikon 18-200, and a Tamron 150-600 for shooting wildlife.

White.Sunday in SedonaHis passions for nature and photography not only fill his days but offer health benefits, too. He’s lost fifty pounds in the past fourteen months by eliminating sugar from his diet and walking three to five miles a day — sometimes as many as ten miles when he’s on a shoot.

He offers a tip he learned from a mentor for those who want to improve their photography. “Turn around. It’s not a technical phrase, but you miss fifty percent of what you might see if you get so focused on where you’re going. It’s made all the difference in my photography.”

In addition to shooting local events for the Red Rock News and sharing photos on Facebook, White is considering setting up a page to sell his work on Arts of America. But that’s down the road. For now, we hope he’ll continue delighting our readers with his chronicles of the natural beauty he sees every day.

White.SunsetWhite.West Fork in WinterWhite.Red Sunset

White.Coyote

 

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