The Lake Powell Photo Trip, Start to Finish

Richard Charpentier Arizona, Notes from Rich, Photography, RLC Design 8 Comments

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A slight stretch on exposure and color with Topaz. A dash of additional detail to boot!

Alright.  I’m going to take a deep breath.  You take one too.  This is going to be a long post!  😉

Sunday morning I got up at 5 a.m.  Quick shower, fast snack, and then wrap up duty around the Airstream.  That means turning the water off, turning the gas off, turning the hot water heater off, flushing the tanks, etc.  Once I was all set I loaded the last of my camping stuff and camera gear into the Versa and waited to hear from Ian.

We were going to hit the road early.  6 a.m.  That’s what he’d said at first.  I didn’t believe it for a minute, but I let him believe it.

Ian and Jantina have 3 children in their household.  Count em’…..3.  Ages from 7 (or is it 8) to under 1 year old.  Now, in a home like that do you honestly think you’re going anywhere on time?  But, I let Ian live the fantasy and I made sure to be awake, just in case!

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An extreme adjustment with Topaz just for fun. The clouds make me think of cotton candy!

Sure enough, prior to the designated departure time I received a call from Ian.  Jantina had to work late the evening before, and we were departing later.  Glad to say I wasn’t surprised.  So, I popped over to their place to give them a hand loading vehicles.  Two tow vehicles for them.  They were pulling a boat and 2 wave runners up to the lake.  And they were bringing supplies for many days that would cover a family of 5.

After helping the Russell family move crates of stuff out to the vehicles I headed off ahead of them.  They still had to pick up the water craft.  That would take some more time.  I wasn’t needed, so I drove on ahead.

For the eco-friendly out there…..yeah, 3 vehicles to go up.  Why not take less?  Well, I was leaving early.  One of the trucks had to tow the wave runners, one towed the big boat.  Ian’s truck was filled to the brim with gear and food, not to mention dogs, and Jantina’s vehicle was full of gear, food, and children.  Fortunately my Versa used less than 1.5 tanks of fuel.  I had to fuel up once, and I’m still running around on that topped off tank.  So, I guess what I’m saying….a lot of gas got used.  To the economic worriers…..we did our part to keep the economy going.  😉

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In one of the many narrow canyons we explored.

Leaving well ahead of the Russells was good by me.  I wanted to take a few photos along the way, and I didn’t want to feel rushed about stopping to take the shots.  Early departures always work well.

The drive took about 4 hours, and a little extra time with stops.  If you read my previous posts you’ve seen my strange little road shots.  Yeah, took those on the way.

By the time I arrived at Antelope Point Ian and Jantina were close by.  Only 15 minutes behind.  I stopped a lot, I took many photos.  Still sorting them, I’ll be sorting for days.  It’s not like I took thousands of frames, more like 400 in total.  But I’ve been busy since my return!

Once we all met up the boats were launched and we were on our way.  More than 30 miles up the lake (I’m thinking like 38) our campsite was waiting.  My task.  Drive a wave runner that far in.  I haven’t been on one in a while, but really nothing to it, right?


Try riding up a choppy lake for 30+ miles.  My thighs are KILLING me!  Still, I’m sore.  Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce………all the way up the lake.  Whew.  Who knew that would be exhausting?

When we finally reached camp it was near 5 p.m.  A few hours coming up the lake (into a storm), a long day, and finally at the finish.  Getting my tent setup was exhausting in the 100 degree heat, and I was pretty much done once camp was setup.

Did I take any lake photos all day?  No.  None.  Zip.  Wave runners are not good platforms for using Digital SLRs.  Pretty straightforward photo tip, don’t you think?

After the sun went down I was hoping for cooler temperatures.  Well, it was cooler, but still in the 80’s.  Sleeping was difficult.  So I got out of the tent and went about making a few evening photos.  If you looked at the prior post you’ve seen one of my favorite photos of my tent, lit up with my head lamp, and a field of stars behind it.

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More cotton candy clouds thanks to a little work with Topaz.

I’m thinking the photo worked out so well because I wasn’t on a rocking and bobbing boat.  I got to use my tripod and everything!  🙂

The next morning we were all up pretty early.  For my part, I didn’t sleep well at all.  Leg cramps, back cramps, all from a long day on the wave runner.  Wow, I must be old!

Ian and I headed out to Dangling Rope to refill the boat’s tank.  He’d gone through his whole tank on the way up too.  Wow!  Boats don’t get Versa mileage.  🙂

After refueling we headed out to round up Jantina and the kids.  A full day of canyon exploration, lake exploration, and a visit to Rainbow Bridge.  Lots of boat time.

Everywhere I looked I saw amazing photo opportunities.  We didn’t stop often though, each location we were to visit involved a lot of motoring time.  And I was waiting for clouds.  I love clouds.  Monsoon season is just the best!

The first major stop?  Rainbow Bridge.  You know, I’ve seen photos of Rainbow Bridge everywhere.  But I never knew it was at Lake Powell.  Shows you what I know.

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Rainbow Bridge from a distance. 3 exposure HDR. I need to work on this one.

Pulling in to the Rainbow Bridge canyon area we were met by a slew of boats.  Another floating dock area.  A long board walk over the water.  All very interesting.

The walk to the bridge was HOT.  I mean super hot.  While you’re on the water you don’t notice the heat, but when you’re on land you become sorely aware of the fact that you’re in the southwest, and that it’s near 100 degrees.

Ian and the kids slowed down, I kept moving ahead.  I wanted to get right under the bridge.  It’s massive, and I just wanted to really see how large it is.

After a series of photos we headed back to the boat.  Anasazi Canyon, Twilight Canyon, and one other with a name I can’t remember were still on schedule.

As we made our way out we saw a heavy cloud build.  Somewhere on Lake Powell a monsoonal burst was dumping water.  Fortunately, it didn’t dump on us.

The rest of the day found us in and out of canyon after canyon.  Narrow passes, tight corners, and points where I thought the boat should go no further.  The lake is a massive assortment of nooks and crannies that you could spend weeks exploring.

Like I said, I’ll be going back armed with a few ideas of what I want to photograph.  And when I return I’ll be using a slower boat, popping on shore constantly, and breaking out the tripod.  Shooting from a boat is tough!  Lesson learned.

Well, there’s the big wrap.  Long post.  Sorry about that.  A few more photos follow, and I hope you enjoy them!

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An HDR that actually worked from the boat. Amazing!

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The bridge to Rainbow Bridge. Pretty cool, eh?

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One of my most interesting shots while on the water.

Comments 8

  1. My parents always loved Lake Powell. I remember getting pounded in a Boston Whaler trying to outrun a storm to a flat spot where we could beach the boat.

    It appears you did not take your ‘Spot’ device with you? I looked at the map but didn’t see anything. It would have been fun seeing your meandering.

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    Actually, I did bring the Spot. I set up my page to show the last 24 hours activity. So, if you weren’t watching “live” then you missed it. I’ll have to change the page to hold the tracks longer. The Spot worked flawlessly and sent out annoying “I’m okay” messages to several folks. 🙂

  3. Well, I’d say even a bad day on the lake is better than the best day at work, which is where I am right now… so wishing I was at a lake somewhere fishing and taking pictures.

    Beautiful captures.

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  5. Awesome Post! HDR photos? I do real estate here at Lake Powell and have found great use for the HDR process. Please feel free to drop by my page and look around.

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  7. Thanks for coming with us! The shots are beautiful as always and will remind me of a great time. Stop complaining about your sore thighs. Think of the workout you got. Buns of steel.

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