Great Southwest Photography Workshop A Workshop with Mark Buckler of Mark Buckler Photography on the Outer Banks of North Carolina

In November of 2015, Jennifer and I toured the Southwest with Mark Buckler and three other workshop members. We began in Phoenix, traveled to Sedona, then to Coal Mine Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Owl Canyon, Rattlesnake Canyon, Zion National Park, and the Valley of Fire in Nevada. We had only visited the Grand Canyon briefly about 25 years ago and had never been to the other sites.

Scene in Sedona, AZ
Sliding Rock Canyon and other areas around Sedona, AZ

We traveled to Sedona first and visited Courthouse Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Bell Rock. We were there at sunset and sunrise for the beautiful desert landscapes. While the clouds didn't cooperate, we still managed to take some nice photographs and ate at a couple of great restaurants, the name of which escapes me. Mark was good to travel with, knowledgeable of the area, and a good teacher. Not the least of his talents was finding excellent restaurants for us.

View of Sedona & Mountains
Cathedral Rock, Courthouse Rock, and Bell Rock

Several artists were painting Cathedral Rock while we were there at the image with the small shed in the foreground. The lower image with the river in the foreground became really beautiful with the sunset and glowed over the rocks. I missed the shot.

Cathedral Rock, Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

Courthouse & Bell Rocks, Sedona, AZ

Cathedral Rock, Sedona, AZ

Scenes from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Sunrise at the Grand Canyon

South Rim, Grand Canyon

Approximately 25 years ago Jennifer and I were in Las Vegas for the national Golf Course Superintendents convention and drove down to the Grand Canyon stopping at Hoover Dam along the way. I didn't remember much about it. This trip we spent most of two days there shooting the sunset and sunrises along the rim.

The morning was extremely cold but the weather was rough and provided neat clouds and rays. The evening was much nicer but the photos weren't as dynamic.

More of the Grand Canyon
Horseshoe Bend
Coal Mine Canyon
Coal Mine Canyon sits at the edge of the Painted Desert

Coal Mine Canyon is a remote, seldom visited site near Tuba City, AZ. It is on the border between the Hopi and Navajo Reservations. Noted for it's colorful formations at one end of the ravine. Mark gave us a chance to see this site as an addition to our scheduled tour. You drive down a long, lonesome road and turn left at a windmill. Following the dirt road through the desert, you come to a picnic table and a small parking area. Just a short walk downhill puts you at the edge of the canyon. It was well worth the trip.

Antelope Canyon
Owl, Rattlesnake, and Antelope Canyons

Antelope Canyon is one of the three slot canyons we visited.

Located on the Navajo lands, Upper Antelope Canyon, Owl Canyon, and Rattlesnake Canyon were the sites we visited. The area is ran by the Navajos and you must have guides who will drive you right up to the canyon entrances. Owl and Rattlesnake were the least crowded and were well worth going to. If nothing else, they provide practice for getting use to the light and camera settings necessary to get good shots. In Upper Antelope Canyon the crowds are heavy and if you are on a photography tour, the guides will try and hold back the other tourists for a short time at various points to allow the photographers to get shots. You have to be fast and efficient to get many shots and there is the continual problem of people coming into the frame if you are not careful. Still, it was well worth going and I got some good images.

Jenny and I and the Guides as well as Workshop Group members
Big Horn Sheep at Zion NP
The Watchman at Zion NP

Zion NP in SW Utah.

Zion NP. We had good chances at images of Big Horn Sheep along the park road
Bryce Canyon Amphitheathre
Bryce Canyon National Park, a sprawling reserve in southern Utah, is known for its crimson-colored hoodoos, or spire-shaped rock formations. The park’s main road leads past the expansive Bryce Amphitheater, a hoodoo-filled depression lying below the Rim Trail hiking path. It has overlooks at Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point and Bryce Point. Prime viewing times are around sunup and sundown. (from the website)

This was a great site for photographers. Especially trying to get shots that you don't usually see. The elevation was well over 9,000 feet and I felt it. Especially when we went back at night to practice night photography. It had sleeted prior to our arrival but all the trails were clear and safe.

Bryce Canyon
In Bryce Canyon
Night Photography in Bryce Canyon

The Milky Way was mostly below the horizon line at this time of the year

Mark took us back into Bryce Canyon at night to practice night photography. It was difficult getting the focus right and the dark takes some getting used to. We started with camera settings of 3200 iso, the widest aperature on a wide angle lens (for me, f2.0 on a Rockinon 16mm lens, and a custom white balance about 3600.

The Milky Way was mostly below the horizon line but there was still enough to give us an idea about the photography and to give us some practice with post processing.

Valley of Fire, Nevada
Fire Wave in the Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire is just south of Las Vegas and Well worth the trip. Opportunity for Big Horn Sheep images as well as all the beautiful landscapes.

Valley of Fire is in Nevada near Lake Mead. The red sandstone formations reflect the sun's rays near sunset or sunrise resulting in the name "Valley of Fire". Movies and commercials have been shot here and it is a destination stop for photographers. The site is in the Mojave Desert. There are several locations that are popular including Fire Wave, White Dome, Elephant Rock, The Arch, etc. Several short, enjoyable trails through slot canyons.

John & Jennifer German, courtesy of Mark Buckler

This was an excellent workshop and we look forward to a trip to this area next summer on our own.

Created By
John German
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