Grand Canyon Chasing the Sun

Sunset at the Grand Canyon.

Title: Chasing the Sun
Date: July 2013
Camera& Lens: Nikon D800E & Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-5.4G
Exposure: 0.3 second at f/11, ISO 100.


The Colorado River has been and is a major force when it comes to shaping the Grand Canyon, and yet the river is only visible from a few select points along the rim of the canyon. Still hard at work, the river has dug a deep channel and is often obscured from view by the many ridges, buttes, temples, and thrones that rise from the depths of the canyon. Seen here from the South Rim of the park, the river appears to be chasing the light of the setting sun, which is just moments will disappear below the distant horizon.

See it big: Grand Canyon – Chasing the Sun

Horseshoe Bend, The Edge of Autumn

Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona.


Title: The Edge of Autumn
Date: September 2014
Camera& Lens: Nikon D800E & Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
Exposure: 11 exposures blended for depth-of-field. All at 1/20 second at f/8, ISO 100.


Standing on the edge of the Horseshoe Bend overlook 1000 feet above the Colorado River is a rush. The river, meandering below,  reflects the deep blues of the sky above as the first rays of the morning sun paint the distant canyon wall in hues of gold and red. At my feet are the first signs of autumn.

Photographer’s technical notes:
In the past I would have used a small aperture value such as f/16 or f/22 to capture this scene with an extreme depth-of-field through-out the photo. The trade-off of using a small aperture is that while you gain a deeper focus you also lose clarity and sharpness due to what is known as diffraction. This loss of sharpness means that I wouldn’t be able to print as large as I would like.

To create this photo and  overcome the limitations of diffraction, I used a technique known as “focus stacking” to maintain the highest levels of clarity and sharpness through-out the scene. I photographed it at f/8, first focusing on the foreground followed by a series of successive photos, slowly moving my focus further into the scene with each image. In total I captured 11 image frames, which were then assembled in post-production to achieve the depth-of-field of photographing the scene at f/22, but while maintaining the high levels of sharpness of photographing each element of the scene at f/8. The end result is that I have incredible clarity, sharpness, and detail throughout the entire photo and can comfortably print this up to 5 or even 6 feet tall.

A.J. Gets His Wish thanks to Make-A-Wish and Treehouse Masters

Treehouse Masters with AJ in Flagstaff

This past August, my wife Sally and I had the privilege of photographing a very special event.

Just down the street from us here in Flagstaff, Arizona, is an 8-year old boy named A.J., who  has spinal muscular atrophy. Being like many other young boys, A.J. likes to get out and explore, but being confined to a motorized wheelchair, there was one place he couldn’t explore…up in the trees. Thanks to a doctor’s recommendation, A.J. was made a candidate for Make-A-Wish, an organization known for granting wishes to children with life threatening medical conditions.

A.J. had one wish and that was for a tree house like those built by Pete Nelson of Nelson Treehouse and Supply  on the Animal Planet show “Treehouse Masters.” Thanks to the hard work of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, A.J. got his wish.

On August 3rd, months of planning came together.  We met with the production crew, and staff from Make-A-Wish. We photographed the “behind-the-scenes” action as the production crew filmed the interviews with the Make-A-Wish people, and as they prepared to surprise A.J. and grant him his wish.

We then did our best impersonation of a special ops team as we made our way to A.J.’s home. We didn’t want to tip-off the neighbors and above all else we need to maintain the element of surprise. Sneaking up through his yard, Pete along with the 4 camera teams for the production company took up their positions, with me in tow.

Finally the moment had arrived. Pete went to the front door of A.J.’s family’s home and rang the door bell. At this point I’ll get pretty emotional. The expression on A.J’s face when he saw Pete was priceless. I’m going to let the photos do the talking from this point forward. See the photos of A.J. getting his wish of a tree house built by Pete Nelson of Treehouse Masters.


I’d like to thank the Make-A-Wish Foundation and A.J.’s family for allowing us to be a part of such a special moment. It was truly an honor to be part of this. I’d also like to thank Pete Nelson of Nelson Treehouse and Supply for his kindness and generosity, and yes he is as nice in person as he is on camera. We also need to acknowledge the support of the production crew. It was awesome to work alongside you and thanks for lunch! Lastly, we have thank the our local firefighters of the Highlands Fire District that spent nearly 2 weeks building a 108 foot long wheelchair ramp for A.J.’s treehouse. These are some of the same guys that helped protect our neighborhood just 3 months earlier when the Slide Fire came with 3 miles of it. Thank you for what you have done for our community.

Grand Canyon – Electric Sunset

Grand Canyon Lightning

Title: Electric Sunset
Date: September 2014
Location: South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
Camera& Lens: Nikon D800E & Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
Filters: 2-stop, soft-edge Graduated Neutral Density
Exposure: 4.0 seconds at f/11, ISO 100

Sitting on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Sunlight strikes the cliffs and warms the rocks as a gentle breeze spills over the rim into the canyon. In the distance is the faint sound of the rushing waters of the mighty Colorado River, still hard at work carving the grandest of canyons.

Grand Canyon – Distant River

Colorado River, Unkar Delta, Grand Canyon

Title: Distant River
Date: August 2014
Location: South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
Camera& Lens: Nikon D800E & Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
Filters: Circular Polarizer & 2-stop, soft-edge Graduated Neutral Density
Exposure: 0.8 seconds at f/16, ISO 100

Sitting on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Sunlight strikes the cliffs and warms the rocks as a gentle breeze spills over the rim into the canyon. In the distance is the faint sound of the rushing waters of the mighty Colorado River, still hard at work carving the grandest of canyons.

Grand Canyon – Silence After the Storm

Wotan Throne North Rim of Grand Canyon.

Title: Silence After the Storm
Date: August 2014
Location: Cape Royal, North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
Camera: Nikon D800E
Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
Filters: 145mm Circular Polarizer
Exposure: 0.8 seconds at f/16, ISO 100

Standing on the rim as a storm clears. A cool mist falls upon me as the warm sun sets on the distant horizon. The silence is interrupted only by the whisper of the wind howling through the cracks and crevices in the land of stone far below.

Team Work – The Thunderbirds Calypso Pass

Thunderbirds perfect Calypso Pass
Title: Team Work – Thunderbirds Calypso Pass
Date: November 2011
Camera: Canon 7D
Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II with Canon EF 2X Extender III
Filters: none
Exposure: 1/1600 second at f/8, ISO 400

In an aerial display featuring precision flying, the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron “The Thunderbirds” demonstrate the team work needed to perform a near perfect ‘Calypso Pass’ at the 2011 Aviation Nation Airshow at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. In this photo they are flying the F-16C Block 52 Fighting Falcon, also known as the Viper.

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Virgin River Narrows in Zion – Radiant Canyon

The Narrows in Zion

This past June I spent a day hiking up and down the length of the Virgin River Narrows in Zion National Park in search of  an “ah ha” moment. These are the moments that take your breath away. I was looking for not only a stunning location, but I wanted a contrast of color and light.

The Virgin River twists and winds its way through several miles of  The Narrows. Being deep in this canyon, light may only reach a small section of the canyon at river level after first reflecting off the sandstone walls above. Some locations within the Narrows may not see any light at all. Add in the fact that the light is always changing and it can become difficult to be in the right spot at the right time.

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Zion National Park – Virgin River Narrows Rush of Water

The Narrows, Zion National Park.
I’m back from Zion National Park in Utah where I spent a few days hiking both the Virgin River Narrows and the Subway. The temperature was hovering around 100 degrees, but the cool rushing waters of the Virgin River were refreshing. Here we have the Virgin River as it carves its way through the Narrows.

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Arizona Highways Magazine, July 2014 Cover

Arizona Highways July 2014

The July 2014 issue of Arizona Highways Magazine is out and the cover features one of my photos of Grand Canyon National Park. This is actually my first cover with Arizona Highways Magazine!

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