January 26, 2013

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Yesterday afternoon, I met up with my friend, Doug, to head out to Farmington Bay in search of some Bald Eagles.  Well, the gate was locked with a sigh stating that the other gates were open.  They weren't.  So, we wandered through west Centerville a bit to see what we could find.  We did find this guy and managed to get in a few good shots before he headed out.

These were captured using a 400mm lens with a 2x extender on it, giving me 800mm.  Because of the focal length, I used a quick shutter speed, between 1/1250 and 1/2000.


January 22, 2013

Christmas At The Yurt

For three years now, the Jensen family has spent Christmas at a Yurt in the Uinta mountains, east of Salt Lake City.  For those of you not familiar with it, a yurt is a semi permanent tent, erected over a wooden frame.  The design allows them to be spacious and comfortable while standing up to weather conditions really well.  As you browse through these images, you'll see several of the yurt that we stayed in, complete with bunk beds, wood burning stove table and chairs, and a $1,000,000 view.

The yurt we visited is in a non-motorized area, so everything we needed for the stay had to be carried in the 1.5 miles from the trail head.  As the kids are getting older, they are getting better at carrying their own stuff and we can load more in their packs.  The two older kids have decided that they prefer cross country skis over snowshoes for the trek, so we rented skis for them again this year.  They did really well with them this year.

We did have an addition to the trek this year.  Chloe, our 3 year old Miniature Schnauzer, that joined our family last fall, came along for the trip.  She's not very big and doesn't have a lot of meat on her bones, so we weren't sure how well she'd survive.  Turns out we had nothing to worry about.  She loved the trip as much as the kids.  She handled the cold pretty well, though her favorite spot in the yurt was right next to the stove.

I always pack camera gear with me on this trip but usually keep it to a minimum to avoid the extra weight.  This year, I decided to pack in enough gear to be able to shoot some decent time lapse material.  This included bringing in a couple of bodies, several lenses, multiple batteries, a couple of tripods, and my rail.  I also brought in some light painting supplies.   My intent was to shoot time lapse during the day and at night. Because of the remoteness of the location (the closest city is Evanston, WY, 30 miles to the north), the yurt is a great place to photograph the night sky.  On a clear night, you can see somewhere around a bazillion stars.  There wasn't a lot of moon at the time, so the conditions should have been just about perfect.  That is if the weather had cooperated.  As you can see in the first few images from our trek into the yurt, we had blue skies with a little bit of clouds.  Makings for a fantastic star time lapse.  By the time we got to the yurt, any trace of blue was gone and before long, it had started to snow.  We spent four days at the yurt and it snowed three of them.  By late Christmas morning, the clouds had broken and we had beautiful blue skies. My hopes started to rise that I'd get to shoot some stars that night.  By late, the clouds had started to build again and the sky was blanketed before the last bit of sunset was gone.  I never saw a single star.

So, my plans for shooting the night sky didn't happen, but we still had a great time.  There was plenty of snow for building forts and a bit of sledding.  We ate, and ate some more.  It was pretty cold outside, but we kept warm inside and enjoyed some reading, games, and our annual puzzle.  There was no power, running water, or internet.  We brought materials to make some Christmas decorations and stockings.  The solar powered Christmas lights added nicely to the fun.  All told, it was an awesome adventure. 

Yup, that's the load I pulled in.  Wasn't as bad as it looked.

Chloe, patiently waiting for us to get on our way.

You can't really see it, but there's about 18" of snow on the bridge.

One of many serious games of Five Crowns. 

Gotta love teenagers!

Top bunk reading spot.  One of the most popular spots of the trip.

The snow fort.

The outhouse.  It was actually pretty clean this year.

The parking lot.

Chloe's favorite spot.

Coloring Christmas decorations is serious business.

Again with the reading.

A little soup for dinner.

Almost looks like stars.

This year's stockings.  (All of the decorations get burned before heading home.  Less to carry out)

Yup, Santa found us at the yurt.

Yup, more reading.

This was the view Christmas morning as the clouds were breaking over Mt. Beulah.
This view is amazing.

New bone from Santa = happy dog.

Panoramic view from the yurt.  This is North on the left to Southeast on the right.

Breakfast time.

Panoramic view with Southeast on the left, Northwest on the right.

Beautiful clear skies for Christmas day.

We've mastered the art of frying pan biscuits on the wood stove.  Good stuff.

The trek out.