After the amazing experience that was Antelope Canyon it was time to move on to the location made famous by John Wayne....Monument Valley. It was only a one night stay at the The View hotel (can't think why they called it that) but that was enough time to do a sunrise and sunset shot :) By the time we arrived there it was already late afternoon which gave time to set up the tripods on the hotel balcony ready for the sun set and the sun rise. It was a great way to spend an evening, watching the sun setting over such a magnificent view was breath taking. You could even see a few lightning strikes in the distance alas they were too far to capture with the camera.
I'd set the alarm early for the next morning to beat sun rise, not too early though as I didn't have far to go from the bed to the balcony :) put both cameras on to time-lapse with the Hahnel remote captures, sat down and watched the sun rise unfold before me casting the buttes into shadow as the sun rose behind them.
This location has been on my bucket list for a while now and to be honest I didn't think I'd get the chance to visit, it would forever remain an ambition of mine to see this fantastic site, my only regret now is that the stay wasn't long enough.....maybe next time I go (if I get the chance) I'll stay for longer to take in Mesa Arch and explore more of the fantastic landscape this place offers.
On such a quick visit I decided to visit a location I hadn't originally set out to visit but when you're in the area there is a location that as a tourist you just have to visit.......mile marker 13 of UT-9 Highway. Made famous in the film Forrest Gump it's the location where Forrest stops running and says "I think I'll go home now". It also offers a great shot of that classic American view of the long road leading into the distance with the fabulous landscape in the distance.
And on the route back from Forrest Gump point I couldn't help myself, I had to stop off again for those iconic US road shots.
We weren't going home though this was just a pitstop on the way to Yosemite via Las Vegas (it was an 850 mile drive in total over 13 hours according to Google and no way was I doing that in one go!) . Staying in the same hotel as the first time we visited Vegas at least I knew roughly were I was going this time once I got to the strip. Vegas though would be a night off from the camera, nice meal and a glass or two of wine was in order instead!
Up early the next morning we headed north for 4 nights in Yosemite, another of those locations that's just fab if you like taking photographs and the location made famous by Ansel Adams whom I'm sure you've all heard of....
Now there was one shot I really wanted to get when I was here, that classic shot of the sun setting hitting half dome from Glacier Point. On the first night after the long drive (it may not be long for an Amercian but for someone from the UK it was!) it was another night of chilling, leaving the camera behind with the thinking behind it well I've still got another three nights to get the shot I wanted. So on the next night we tried to take the 20 odd mile drive up to Glacier Point only to be stopped half way up due to either a vehicle accident or forest fires (you could see the ground around you smouldering).
The next morning got a bit of a shock as it had snowed. Now the day before we had been in t-shirts and shorts and today it was time to layer up. That evening didn't even try to get to Glacier Point as the road was closed due to snow, not something I was quite expecting it still being September but then it is 7,214 feet high or 2,199 metres. Gutted I was that left only one more evening to try and get the shot I wanted.
The final evening approached and we set off up the long windy road to the top in the trusty Dodge journey. Camera gear all loaded in the boot complete with the warm weather gear (I had come prepared for some cold weather) and was so glad I did as the temperature kept dropping until it reached freezing. Stopped off at the first location, didn't like it and rushed to the second location as the sun set and boy was I rewarded with one of the most magical sights I have ever seen. The sun with the clouds creating bands of light that danced over half dome and the surrounding landscape before lighting up Half Dome with a golden light and then the sky turned pink and then it was gone. Now I'm not sure how long it lasted but it seemed to be all over rather quickly, so much so that I didn't dare move the camera to a different location as I was completely awe struck by the way the light was dancing across the landscape. No wonder Ansel Adams loved this place so much and the location remains on the wish list of many photographer...
Now Yosemite offers so much to the photographer and if you're a landscape photographer you could easily spend months here as Yosemite is huge. 1,200 square miles in fact. And so much to photograph, Half Dome, the waterfalls, tunnel view (That iconic Ansel Adams view), lakes and then you've got the change of the seasons and the oh so clear skies at night with no real light pollution (So if anyone has any free accommodation for as long as I can get a visa I'll snap your hand off :)
Now Half Dome wasn't the only location I photographed as you can see from the shots below. And I did enjoy some other more touristy events including a ride round Fish Camp in an original Model T Ford, stopping the local wildlife from stealing my food (got to watch out for those squirrels, I'm sure they operate in gangs to get the food!).
One long flight and one heck of a diversion via Vegas, Grand Canyon and Monument Valley
Eating: Ate at the Tenaya Lodge 3 out of the 4 nights which was in walking distance of where we stayed
Yosemite Pass - weekly up to $35