White Pocket Lessons: Bet you thought I’d forget!

Richard Charpentier Arizona, HDR, Notes from Rich, Off Road Adventures, Photographing Arizona, Photography 1 Comment

Ah, the lessons learned on this recent trip to White Pocket.  In my exhausted state on Sunday I wrote out an awfully long list of stuff, and I’m willing to bet some readers thought I’d let the list pass into memory.  Yeah, right.  There were some interesting lessons learned on this trip, so let’s get into them!

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The white formations seem to be the trademark of the place!

2 Meter Repeaters to the Rescue….

That’s right.  There’s HAM radio coverage throughout the Coyote Buttes area and White Pocket as well.  This is indeed encouraging.  I’m all about being safe while having fun!

I’ve been a HAM since 97′.  Back then I was a network design engineer with Sprint PCS.  I ran DACs systems, Lucent switches, the works.  But I didn’t get the Radio Frequency (RF) side of the equation.  An old hat Transport Engineer named Paul suggested I get my HAM license and I would gain a better understanding of what the RF side of the house did.  I took his advice, and I’m grateful to have the additional skill set.

HAM radio is a great resource.  Emergency communications, making new friends locally and globally, and more!  Off roading has reminded me that communication is important especially in remote places where you can’t reach assistance easily.

So, for all you folks interested in visiting White Pocket, you’ve got emergency aid options!

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The banding and swirling throughout White Pocket is incredible. I could look at it all day!

Deep Sand

It’s deep.  Not in the existential sense.  It’s just deep.  The sand slows you down while driving, it slows you down hiking, it exhausts you.  It also fills your shoes, your tent, your camera case, and if you’re unlucky, your camera!

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The Nissan Titan almost looks "hard core" off road. But we all know better....It's the Airstream tow vehicle!

Sandblasting sucks!

Saturday the winds were rocking in White Pocket.  And the wind combined with sand helps create the formations in White Pocket.  It also really messes with photo gear.

Coming in from our afternoon and evening shooting both Tom and I found our cameras covered in sand.  My face had gotten sandblasted as well, and I always turned the camera away each time the grit hit my face.  Unfortunately my B&W filter came away with multiple chips in it from a few gusts I couldn’t avoid.  Expensive filter too, but it did the job of safe guarding my lens.  I know many people who refuse to use filters, but I’ll tell you, that filter saved an expensive lens!

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Tom Hoopes, heavily edited. Cut a few years off with photoshop and Topaz, dealt with the gray hair, and dropped about 40 lbs for him...... 🙂

A watched pot leaves you unable to take pictures

Cooking a hot meal at the end of an exhausting day is important.  It provides that extra comfort level that you want when you’re chilled and tired.  But the hot meal comes at a cost.

Round one of stew cooking was my department.  I sat watch over the Whisperlite stove and the pot for quite a while.  It didn’t boil quickly, after all it was a watched pot.  It felt like it would never boil!

While getting food ready I watched Tom wander all over with his camera.  A photo here, a photo there.  Not fair, not fair!

Fortunately, after round one of dinner was done it was Tom’s turn to man the stove.  And while he was cooking the light got to that perfect zone.  Magic hour.  So, knowing how long it would take for round two to be ready I wandered into the dunes with my camera and found a few photos worth while.  While I was shooting Tom realized, cooking round 1 would have been a better plan!

Clouds rock and suck at the same time

For HDR photography I love clouds.  They can do so much for an image.  That extra contrast, extra motion, and help with haloing make for a win / win setup.  But they can also really mess with your lighting when shooting.  Several times Saturday afternoon I found myself waiting for clouds to move out so I could get the light I wanted.  When it comes down to it though, clouds work for me more than they work against me.

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Tripping and falling on a moon shadow, moon shadow, moon shadow.....

Shooting by moonlight…..

Can you believe that you can shoot by moonlight and still get star fields?  Yes, you can.  In fact, the moonlight can actually add to the illumination of the scene.  The 5D Mark II did great.  ISO 1000, cable release, tripod……you’re set!  Check the photo and see for yourself!

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There's nothing I can say about this image. I think it says everything needed.

When the sun sets in the “high desert” grab your sleeping bag!

To say we got cold at White Pocket is to make a pretty large understatement.  30 degree bag my a**!

Shooting during the late season means cooler temperatures.  In the shade while out during the afternoon we were chilled.  And when the sun dipped below the horizon we found ourselves feeling like we’re back in New Hampshire.  Wool hats came out, gloves, mittens, 4 layers of clothing, etc.  And getting into the sleeping bag helped, but the wind blowing in all night kept leaving “cold spots.”

In the end, I was up at 4:30 a.m. and in the truck.  I started it up, hit the heat and warmed up.  Brrrrrrr!  Tom was in the truck shortly and we both got warm.  Decaf was brewed, then we hit the formations for some moonlight and sunrise shooting.

There are more lessons, but some things you’ll have to learn for yourself

Yes, I didn’t hit the whole list.  But really, you’ve got to learn some things for yourself.  Of course, if you actually have serious questions please feel free to get in touch with me any time.  I love sharing my lessons with anyone!

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Seriously, it was cold in the a.m.!

Comments 1

  1. I realize this is an older post, but I’m planning a trip to White Pocket in the near future and I’m curious if you recall which 2M/440 repeaters were accessible from White Pocket? I want to make sure that I’ve got them programmed in the mobile and HT’s.

    From the maps, it looks like the Jacob’s Lake repeater is probably one of them.

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