Sunday, May 26, 2013

Marble Canyon Splendor

Rising full moon, blue light and green airglow

I spent a couple days in the House Rock Wilderness south of the Vermillion Cliffs above Marble Canyon. This was a location I'd been to before, but my timing had been all wrong and had arrived at midday. I was going to make the most of this trip though and had this vision of a shot I might get. I imagined the canyon illuminated by both the blue light after sunset and the light from the full moon on the cliff faces. 

The first night I did my best to shoot the rising full moon, but the shots suffered from very windy conditions. My blue light capturing technique usually allows for a normal ISO setting and a long shutter speed. But gusty conditions had my camera and tripod vibrating like crazy. So, I was forced to use a high ISO setting to achieve a fast enough shutter speed to prevent camera shake. The shots were extremely noisy even with the noise reduction settings on the camera. Post-processing helped, but the light from the moon was only okay and most of the canyon was in shadow. A little green airglow on the horizon was a nice added bonus.

So, I laid down in the back of the truck that night with my fingers crossed the wind would dissipate by morning. I had one more shot at the blue light before sunrise. At 3 am, I peeked out to see the moon had gone behind clouds that had moved in. I was very happy to see some clouds, but It still didn't look good. The sky was a big flat gray mess. The moonlight was heavily filtered and like a giant soft box. That's good for portraiture, but bad for landscapes. 

Moonlight and Blue Light

I woke again at 4 am to see the moon was dropping below the clouds. I jumped out of the truck. No wind... I got really excited. I grabbed my camera gear and quickly walked to my vantage point. Was I going to get my dream shot? When I got to the canyon's edge, I could see the light was fantastic and much better than the night before. Moonlight was on the opposite side of the canyon and the blue light was hitting hard. Perfect. I must have taken 500 shots...

Sunrise over Marble Canyon

The clouds also provided a spectacular sunrise a few minutes later. You just never know if a sunrise or sunset is going to go off. I was confident it was going to be a good one though. The clouds weren't heavy, but light and wispy. It was very exciting to see the colors emerge and the sunrise do it's thing as the moon slipped below the horizon.

This is one of my favorite photographic locations in the state. The views are mind blowingly beautiful, almost too much so. Watching the full moon rise the night before was a very special experience and one that I will never forget. But it paled in comparison to the show I saw the next morning. 

There were even a few surprises... I was able to see where a couple river rafting companies had parked for the night below. Small headlamps and electric lanterns were tiny points of light along the beach. With my binoculars I could see the white-water rafts lined up at the beach along the Colorado River. I imagined what a good time they must have been having and what their day floating down Marble Canyon had been like. I'm pretty sure they missed the gorgeous sunrise so deep in the cut of the canyon though. The whole experience was nature at it's best and I felt very fortunate to be a witness.

See my Fine Art America gallery for a variety of high-quality products from individual prints and canvas wraps to metal prints and frame and matted works of photographic art.

© 2013 G. Reid Helms / Arizona Panorama
All reproduction rights reserved

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The James Agency


I just finished a shoot I started a few months ago for The James Agency, an advertising, public relations and marketing firm in Scottsdale. The last piece of the puzzle was a shot of their newly completed street sign. It looked great in the blue light...

A sign from above...

Traffic and the blue light

Initially, they needed some interior shots to promote their new office on Hayden and Indian School. I was more than happy to oblige. The office was mostly Scandinavian chic with nice accent colors and cool glass fronted offices. Event the nick nacks were fun and tastefully done. 

The Queen Bee's office

Conference and meeting room

Art Department awesomeness

The art department was a nice big open space and a place any artist would love to work. Polished concrete floors and lots of task lighting were nice touches. Even those darn pesky overhead fluorescents were baffled in a pleasing way.

They have the coolest vibe and never hesitate to get a little nutty during the work day. I saw a couple posts to social media showing a meeting with a spontaneous Harlem shuffle breaking out amongst the staff members. Another post had their Creative Director break dancing in the hallway. Pretty awesome in my book. I've worked in offices where this wasn't the case and really appreciate that kind of hilarity. It sure makes you want to work there and definitely work with them. Pretty savvy I'd say.

Scandinavian chic

More awesomeness in the creative space

Thanks to Veronique James and Shane Tang for opportunity and I look forward to working with you in the future. Looks like you've made the place your new home! Here's wishing you all the best!

Friday, May 17, 2013

McCormick Ranch night shoot

Here's a beauty in McCormick Ranch I shot for my friends at Venture REI...

Thanks to Dan, Libby and Lisa!

Need a professional to make your next property look it's best?
Call me today! 480-432-1181.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sycamore Canyon

Sycamore Point

South of Williams, AZ is this stunning overlook of Sycamore Canyon. Sycamore Point is some 27 odd miles down the road past Whitehorse Lake. I'd spent the day on the other side of this vista looking for another overlook situation like the one I'd found last summer from Harding Point. 

West Fork of Oak Creek

My secret overlook of the West Fork of Oak Creek was my favorite find from last summer. So, I stopped here on the first day to camp. I didn't really have a plan in mind when I got in the truck that day. I drove through Sedona and just had to see the West Fork from high above one more time. It was just as stunning as I remembered.

I was curious if a technique I usually reserve for my real estate photography would produce the same kind of drama. As I was shooting I was thinking, "it's too damn dark out. These are going to be crap." But I know when the "blue light" hits shortly after sunset and what it does to my camera's sensor...  it produces this etherial electric-blue glow. Any surface exposed to the sky also turns blue. It always feels like magic when I finish the post-processing and look at the finished product.

Rainbow over Sycamore Canyon

After a great night, I explored the rest of Harding Point. I bounced around on a series of forest service roads most of the day. It was grueling. Some of the roads were crazy rough. I should know better by now. By the middle of the day, I was physically sore and worn out. I had to do something else. So, I decided to try to find Sycamore Point. It was in the neighborhood, sort of. I wasn't really sure how far it was... somewhere south of Williams. 

I'd seen some photos of the canyon, but didn't think it would be as great as it was. But it was great. I guess low expectations aren't a bad thing. And as an added bonus, the weather in the area was just like I like it. Storm clouds were all around dropping rain in the distance. I even managed to capture the most fleeting of rainbows. It surprised the heck out of me and fortunately I was ready. One more minute later it was gone.

Falling Rain at Sycamore Point

The storm across the canyon was fantastic. The rain was sporadic and put on quite a show the entire time I was there. The place was so quiet, peaceful and powerful all at the same time. It was hard to put into words. The light was slowing moving across the ridges on the other side of the canyon as the sun ducked in and out of the clouds behind me.

Last Light over the Canyon

It seemed right for a great sunset, but was pretty much a fizzler. The sun's last rays did manage to light up the falling rain in the distance. Like the rainbow, it was incredibly fleeting lasting maybe only 60 seconds.

On my way out, I drove by a small herd of pronghorn standing in a field just off the road. It added to all the wildlife I'd seen that day... I'd seen four mule deer and three elk cows. I'd heard a turkey gobbling from my campsite while still laying in my tent. There were eagles and ravens, robins and gnatcatchers. Swifts and swallows flew around on all the cliffs. A squadron of turkey vultures had buzzed my campsite that morning... None of this is ever lost on me. I always feel so fortunate to see whatever is around.

The blue light was hitting so I stopped one last time to shoot a juniper I'd seen as I was driving to the point earlier that afternoon. There was something perfect about this tree and I made a special point to find it again in the dwindling light. It was the final zen moment in an almost perfect day.

I only spent a couple hours at Sycamore Point, but it filled my soul and left me totally satisfied. So, instead of camping somewhere else for the night and continuing my journey the next day, I drove straight back to Phoenix. I didn't get home until after midnight. I quickly unloaded the truck and promptly downloaded my camera to the computer. I had to see if the photos I'd taken even came close to the spectacle I had witnessed a few hours before. I wasn't disappointed in the least.

See my Fine Art America gallery for a variety of high-quality products from individual prints and canvas wraps to metal prints and frame and matted works of photographic art.

© 2013 G. Reid Helms / Arizona Panorama
All reproduction rights reserved

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Central Phoenix Flip

A gorgeous flip in Central Phoenix.


Thanks Marycatherine for using me.

I can't wait to see the next one... with a pool.

To have me shoot your property, call me at 520-309-5056. 
Daylight shoots start at $100.