Summer trip to the American Southwest

InevitableInevitable Registered Users Posts: 1 Beginner grinner
edited September 10, 2015 in Journeys
I'm new to the group, so let me start by saying hello. My name is Charles Head. I'm a hobbyist photographer with aspirations of someday changing careers. I've only been shooting for a short time. My wife gave me a Nikon D3200 for Christmas, and her fear was that I would "play" with it for a couple of weeks then put it in a drawer somewhere. Nothing could be farther from the truth. She unlocked an obsession. Now she always has to say "do you really need to bring that thing," even if we're going to the park for exercise.

The photo journal below comes from my American Southwest Collection (http://inevitable.smugmug.com/American-Southwest-Collection/).
This summer I had the opportunity to drive from Texas to Arizona on a nine day trip. My wife and I are thinking of moving to Phoenix sometime next year, and we wanted to see what we were getting into.

The first leg of our trip took us from Dallas to Albuquerque, NM, then through the Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert.


After the Painted Desert, the drive was a three hour nerve test where I had to white-knuckle it from 5500 ft down to Phoenix's 1100 ft elevation. The road was twisty and steep, with switchbacks and sharp turns that kept the trip very interesting. We couldn't see what was to either side of the highway due to the dark. Sometimes we could tell the mountain walls were cliffs that soared above us, while at other times we were sure we were at the top of one of those same steep cliffs.

The next day, we explored Phoenix and visited the Botanical Gardens. Who knew they would have one there in the desert?


The next morning, we were off to the Grand Canyon. It's hard to believe the variety of environments the wilderness of Arizona has to offer. The highway ran through the hot desert floor for maybe an hour, then we started noticing more and more trees as our elevation raised. They started out as stunted, low topped clumps of green, barely more than a shrub. Sparsely populated, at first, they begin the become more dense as we drove, and eventually gave way to huge, 40 ft. pines jutting high into the air.

Eventually, through the forest growing thicker around us, we passed through Flagstaff, right next to Mt. Humphreys.


After a quick nap at our hotel, we headed off to the Grand Canyon. I don't care how many pictures I've ever seen of the place before or since. Nothing on this world can prepare you for how tiny and humble you feel the first time you walk around the bend to see it.


The next morning we found out that the state was performing controlled burns to help prevent forest fires. This made much of the upper canyon almost impossible to photograph (though I did get a couple of good shots... not seen here), so we continued along our journey by driving a few hours up the road to Page, AZ. This is the embarkation point for several river tour raft rides down the Colorado River from the Glen Canyon dam (Lake Powell) to Horseshoe bend and back.

The view from the river was awesome.


After an awesome day of touring the river, we headed to beautiful, scenic Sedona, AZ. This place is where millionaires go to retire, and I can see why. From the quaint mom-n-pop art stores, to the rustic natural features of the Red Rocks, there was very little not to love about Sedona.

We spent a few hours touring the town before packing up and heading to our next destination. When we were leaving the hotel, I met a new friend in the lobby.


We toured the surrounding area, stopping by the Sedona Airport to take the time to snap some shots for an HDR composite of the Red Rocks.


We continued our trek to the Red Rocks National Park. I expected some climbing trails that would lead to the base of some of the huge natural rock formations, and what I found instead was a pleasant surprise. As it turns out, this park has several small creeks running through it, and several of the trails ended up following these creeks, affording us shade and a chance to stop and admire this lush oasis of green amid the harsh red desert that surrounds it.


By the time we got to Jerome, we were too worn out from our day's hiking that we decided not to check out the ghost town. Gotta save something for next time, right?

On the way out, we had an opportunity to stop for some more HDR composite shots.


The next day was full of touring Phoenix neighborhoods and checking out my company's new office. Not much opportunity to take pictures arose, but we enjoyed the day and found several nice neighborhoods. We headed back to Albuquerque the next day, then back to Texas. Driving through the town of Amarillo, TX, we remembered a local attraction, the Cadillac Ranch. This place is crazy. Someone half buried some cars, and tourists come along and spray paint them, creating layer upon layer of paint and causing some of the brightest creations to come through.

This site is always changing. Most likely, the shots below would look completely different today.


I'm absolutely in love with this region of the country, and I look forward to the opportunity to return and hone my skills. I ended up with several shots that I've turned into prints, and the subject matter of this area offers many, many more to come. I hope you enjoyed my shots.



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    lilirishangellilirishangel Registered Users Posts: 166 Major grins
    edited May 26, 2015
    very cool

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    CavalierCavalier Registered Users Posts: 3,042 Major grins
    edited May 27, 2015
    clap.gifthumb Nice journey and very cool series of images. I'd say your obsession is a good thing that has produced some terrific work. I like the HDR shots - not overdone and nicely processed. Something tells me that if you move to the Arizona/New Mexico area, your wife may have another complaint as you will be constantly out shooting!:D
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    captnemocaptnemo Registered Users Posts: 186 Major grins
    edited September 10, 2015
    Lovely pics, especially the condor, haven't gotten a good sighting of one since I was a kid. If you're serious about moving to Phoenix perhaps you should spend a week or so in august there first. :)
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    moose135moose135 Registered Users Posts: 1,419 Major grins
    edited September 10, 2015
    Somehow I missed this thread when it was originally posted, but I'm glad I came across it now - I'm heading off on a road trip to the Southwest in a little more than a week, hoping to visit some of these same places. Wonderful images, Charles, it looks like quite a trip you had!
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