Sedona With Snow

We watched the weather for weeks hoping to get the 'perfect' day to drive north and get some winter snow photography.  I love the red rocks of Sedona covered with snow so that location was my first choice.  Finally, it seemed like that perfect day had arrived.  Six photographers, pretty nice weather and lots of shared company make a very nice photo adventure.  Kati was in Sedona the day before we drove up and has graciously contributed her photos showing the storm clouds building up and then snow falling.  Enjoy.

When we drive to Sedona we usually stop first at the Forest Service Information Center.  Not only is the view pretty darn good, but it gives us an opportunity to check out road conditions with the staff and makes sure all our favorite sites are open.

Finally, we decided it was time to drive into Sedona.  Of course, we had to stop along the way or take photographs from a moving car.  To me this looks like another praying monk.

Taken the day before our trip.

We wanted to photograph the valley from the the nice overlook across from the airport parking lot.  But, they now charge $3 just to park!!  We decided to head a bit down the mountain and take our photographs from the trail head of a path that goes to the top of the hill.

I think Karen hiked to the top but I decided against what looked like a slippery slope.  We can only have one person at a time in a sling in our household!

OK, time to get back on the road and head to Red Rock Crossing.

With one very interesting stop along the way.  I think this is before the Crossing, but am not sure.

We get excited by puddles!

Rick has a new filter and filter holder (Lee, I believe) and I asked him to share how he had stacked them for some of the photographs he took.  This image was captured with both a circular polarizing filter and a 2 stop ND graduated filter.

On this image Rick used a circular polarizer and a 3 stop ND filter.

Rick used a circular polarizer and a 1 stop graduated ND filter.

After lunch Rick and Barbara made a side visit to photograph the Chapel on the Hill.  Most of the snow had already melted in Sedona by the time we left.

Snow Blankets Sedona

A major winter storm moved across Arizona on New Year's Eve.  We checked out Sedona, and specifically Crescent Moon, also known by some as Red Rock Crossing, to experience a most unusual photographic opportunity.

We left with safety and caution as our guides as to how far north we would drive (note to self, remind mom we are responsible)!  What really drove us was the excitement to see what might be covering those gorgeous red rocks.  But first . . . 

The roads were clear the whole way!  Thanks guys.

Along the road north of Black Canyon City.

Along the road.

Behind McDonald's in Camp Verde.

Fifteen shot panorama from the Ranger Station.

From the Ranger Station just outside Sedona.  Checking for park closures, maps, suggestions, etc.  It was cold and the sky was just beginning to clear up.

White out!!!!

Bell Rock

I think this is Bell Rock as well.

On our way to Crescent Moon.  Can't complain about this scenery.  Tom rode 'camera' as we drove.

Still snowing lightly around town.

There is a man walking right behind this tree.  It became a challenge to get a 'clean' shot!

I like Barbara's better.  See below.

Aren't these reflections just the coolest ever?  Yes!

Taken before the clouds got serious about moving on.  For those asking for some EXIF and post processing information:  This image was processed using exposure blending.  It is not the same as HDR processing, rather it uses two images (usually) to achieve a more realistic or artistic interpretation desired by the photographer.  In both images:  ISO 400, 70mm focal length, taken with  a Nikon D600 and 24-70mm Nikkor lens.  One image was shot at 0 EV and 1/750 and the other image was shot at -2 EV and 1/3000.  The negative exposure compensation, achieved  by the faster  shutter speed, gave Tom the moody sky image he was after.  The image was then processed using the 2 exposures that were layered in Photoshop and blended together to get the darker sky on one over the lighter foreground on the other, then erasing parts of the top image.   While not an HDR processed image, Tom is seeking to accomplish the same goal, which is to represent a greater dynamic range in the image, while avoiding the ghosting and chromatic aberration which are common byproducts of HDR processing.

There was a lot of discussion on how to best capture snow falling, and believe me, it was falling from these over-burdened branches in big chunks.    To my knowledge, David was the only one that got a shot of it!  Kersplash!  Good luck David!

While I like this photo, I like the one taken by David (below) much better.  I put this one on just to show how composition makes such a difference.

David's image, for me, captures a much better representation of the red rock, which then complements that lovely orange leaf above and the red in Cathedral Rock in the background.  He cuts out the area across Oak Creek which really does not add anything to the image.  It is a much tighter, more focused and interesting image than the one I took above.  If you are asking what this would look like if the water was smooth and silky, you are asking a good question!  EXIF:  ISO 200, 16mm focal length, 1 EV, f/9 at 1/100 with Canon EOS 7D and EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens.  Minimal post processing.

One of the nicest photographic opportunities at this location is, of course, to capture reflections.  Usually one is restricted to reflections off Oak Creek.  But, after monsoon storms or snow melts, there is one place everyone loves to check out.  It is a big slab of red rock with indentations.  It is located so that if you are clever, patient and work your shot, you can get some interesting reflections.  On this day there was not much in any of the pools so it was a tough assignment!

Another interpretation.  Some folks like it darker!  Yep, that is me walking back and offering David an opportunity to get a sense of scale!  Actually, I was in the way!!

One more way to work the shot.  

Another version of catching falling snow!  Just love it.

At some point you have to leave.  Right?  Dang it!  Tom caught some late Golden Hour shots from the car as we headed home.  A full day of magic.  Must admit, it was a long ride home.

Taken from the parking lot at Tlaquepaque where we stopped for dinner at El Rincon.

Red Rock Crossing

Before heading to Red Rock Crossing we drove up the hill to the airport's overlook.  From there you can see a wide swath of Sedona.  It was midday . . . so . . . well, the light was not the best!  But, after a fair amount of grousing about the light, you have to admit that at least one person in the group was up to the challenge!

Our goal in going to Red Rock Crossing was to capture some fall yellows, reflections and maybe a clever closeup or two . . . against the gorgeous backdrop of Cathedral Rock.  A bonus would be a great golden hour, turning the rock a brilliant fiery orange that reflected back onto Oak Creek.  We will leave it to our viewers to decide if we got what we went for.  For us?  Well,  when ten friends get together with a common interest in photography the outcome is usually memorable.

A view seldom shot.

Doreen started by showing off color wrapping the parking area in gold.  I looked up at the iconic Cathedral Rack and was disappointed.  Doreen turned around and looked back.  I like Doreen's perspective better than mine!

One perspective taken earlier in the afternoon.  Below another one taken three hours later.

Another interpretation.

Not all is red rock.

Barbara breaks the rules about leading lines.  

Rick has angels that deliver the sun just where he asks . . . .

Kati had a good strategy.  She went 'light' with only one camera and one lens, her macro lens.  She was taking her time and working each and every shot.  I think she was in a meditative state!!

Another view.  

Another view.  

You know something is up when you spot a line of photographers with their black noses all pointed in the same direction, such as we have above and below.  What you don't know is how many 'interpretations' of the scene you will get.  Enjoy them all.

Our hikers took up the trail to the top of the Cathedral Rock.  They mentioned one mile and then said it was a bit like Piestewa Peak.  That meant it was 'arduous', difficult, and definitely not meant for the ordinary person unprepared for that kind of hike.  Their images were awesome!!

Now that is a very new perspective of Cathedral Rock!  Thanks Ann.

Uh?  That is a tough path.

I think Greg took this of Ann with her iPod Touch (her camera for the day). She certainly offers a sense of scale!!  Quite the view.

Nice comparison with the images taken from the airport's viewpoint.

Wayfinding rock.  

Ah Lefty.  I see that Ann has a new perch for you on Buddha Beach!

If you hike up the creek far enough you come to a forest of cairns.  Hundreds of them!!  I believe the area is referred to as Buddha Beach.  I was told it is very bad karma to steal a rock from someone else's cairn creation.

When one runs out of ground real estate the cairn is placed up in trees!

This house is right behind the bank where everyone wants to stand for the iconic Golden Hour shot of Cathedral Rock.

As the Golden Hour settled in we were able to capitalize on that precious gold and get in a few more shots that really emphasizes the gold.

"If you are the last one leaving the creek, please dim the lights.  Thank you."