A Mountain Autumn

Fall on the Wasatch Back (new)

The particular charm of a mountain autumn, for me, is the way winter sneaks in around the margins. For virtually every autumn in the mountains that I can remember, the riotous foliage colors are perking along nicely when along comes the first cold storm of winter. Well, not exactly cold, but coolish enough to put a bit of snow on the highest elevations, and drape the reds and oranges with white for a couple days, at least. It is such a great reminder that every season is a moving target, on the way in and on the way out at the same time.

This photograph captures that transition nicely. On the back side of the Wasatch Range in northern Utah, the oaks and maples are saturated with their reds and oranges, the aspens are in a slow transition from green to gold, while the high country gets a white blanket and scudding dark clouds. The contrast is perfect. This scene is at Cascade Springs in Wasatch Mountain State Park. The departing storm clouds let in a moving patchwork of sunlight, allowing the photographer to just wait and cherry-pick as highlights shift from this hill to that valley to the other ridge, and back again. This composition, with highlights on the foreground and distant horizon, with shadow in the middle, seemed the best to me. (pricing schedule C)

“A Mountain Autumn” – Exhibition at Park City Library

Lost Prospector Trail in Autumn; mountain autumn

It’s up! Further To Fly Photography is pleased to announce the opening of “A Mountain Autumn,” an exhibition of 40 photographs celebrating Fall in the forests of Park City, the West and the World. The exhibition in the Park City, Utah, library runs from September 15 through November 25, 2017, and is open to the public during library hours.

Photos in the exhibit are from Tom Horton’s portfolio of nature and landscape photography and are from the past 10 years’ work. They are glicée prints of various sizes up to 40 inches by 30 inches, handmade by Tom on archival canvas and watercolor paper.

Early Snow, Wasatch Range - Brighton, 2016
Early Snow, Wasatch Range – Brighton, 2016

From the Artist’s Statement at the show: “The wistfulness of a passed Summer is unknown in mountain towns. In August, we begin stealing glances at the hills and forests. When the maples show hints of sunset-red and and the oaks are Halloween-orange, we sense the main event is coming. While the aspens blaze yellow, we clean house, fill the wood bin, and set out the good china for our guests (and ourselves). Our pace quickens and our hearts turn over. Life starts another chapter.”

Survivors - Kamas, 2016
Survivors – Kamas, 2016

Works in the exhibition are available for sale directly from Tom Horton. Tom is donating 15% of gross sales during the exhibition to the Friends of the Park City Library, a citizen’s support group for the library. Email Tom with this contact form,

Kate Mapp, Curator, Park City Library
Kate Mapp, Curator, Park City Library
Sunspots - Park City, 2016
Sunspots – Park City, 2016
On Treasure Hill - Park City, 2016
On Treasure Hill – Park City, 2016
Under the Aspens - Park City, 2016
Under the Aspens – Park City, 2016


Grand Staircase at “Red, White and Snow”

Grand Staircase

“The Grand Staircase”, a large canvas print in high-end framing, is available at a major fundraising auction in Park City. The National Ability Center’s “Red, White and Snow” gala is offering this compelling print in its Premium category at a value of $5,001. The work measures 40″ x 57″ and is print #2 in an edition of 10 in the Further to Fly Photography catalog.

Interested collectors can preview this art and bid online at this link. The gala is part of many events on the Red, White and Snow weekend and is Saturday, March 4 at the Montage Deer Valley resort, 5:30 pm. 

“The Grand Staircase” is an excellent example of having to get away from the trees to see the forest. The Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument is the largest national monument in the lower 48 US states and features endless terraced mesas, redrock formations, shady slot canyons, lonely streams, and an immense stratigraphic and paleontologic record book. It is impossible to comprehend the whole of it when you are inside it.

I was at nearby Bryce Canyon National park on a winter afternoon, and the combination of elevation, snow, and the warm, low-angle light of sunset was a sudden, almost accidental revelation. The literal Grand Staircase was in right in front of me, compressed between a bluff in Bryce Canyon and the shoulder of Navajo Mountain, 160 kilometers away — and the lines, shapes and colors made it whole in a way few had noticed before. This rendition is one of my favorites, not only for its beauty, but for the way it simplified its complexity for me. I love it when a shot comes together.

“Ghosts of the Great Basin” Exhibit Opens Oct. 21

Ghosts of the Great Basin #6

“They seem to be arriving and leaving at the same time, halfway in and halfway out of the world.” That’s my impression of the wild horses I photographed for the exhibition “Ghosts of the Great Basin,” opening October 21st at the Utah Art Festival Gallery in Salt Lake City.

Ghosts of the Great Basin #4
Ghosts of the Great Basin #4

American wild horses (more accurately termed feral horses or mustangs) endure a tenuous existence and uncertain future. People brought these horses to the country’s wilds, yet we saddle them with a love/hate relationship. There are far too many for the land, as we manage it, to support, yet our will to make decisions about them wavers. They are truly in limbo, as pointed out recently in a New York Times story.

Ghosts of the Great Basin #1
Ghosts of the Great Basin #1

Mustangs overpopulate their American ranges by up to 10,000 horses today, and we provide extra water and food for their survival. They are efficient competitors for resources with livestock and wild game, which generates some criticism. But to many, they are simply beautiful, inspirational free spirits.

Ghosts of the Great Basin #3
Ghosts of the Great Basin #3

In addition to the wild herds, there are 40,000 more in captive holding pens in the Midwest. Some are adopted, but that is not a solution because it is much easier to raise a domestic horse.  They depend on humans to exist, yet we don’t know what to do with them.

Ghosts of the Great Basin #4

The reality is that of about 70,000 feral Mustangs, we are warehousing about 1/3 of them on the range, and 2/3 in captivity, and none of them are truly wild. Another story of  hurting the ones we love.

Gallery stroll and artists’ reception — 6:00-9:00 pm, October 21st, 230 S. 500 W., Salt Lake City. Details at the Utah Art Festival Gallery website.

Grand Teton After the Storm

Grand Teton After the Storm

It took two nights sleeping in the back of the car in the parking lot on top of Signal Mountain to get this shot. I hope you like it. Two nights, because the first morning the dawn was still socked in by rain and the Grand Teton peaks couldn’t even be seen. By the second night the storm had faded out and dawn that morning was perfect. Morning mists were rising from the valley floor just as the sun caught the high peaks. It takes perfect timing and a healthy measure of luck to get this kind of shot, and if you spend the night too far away from the perfect spot, the probability of success can be discouraging.

Of course, this is a national park and camping outside of a campground is against the rules. Technically, I could get in trouble, but in many, many nights sleeping in the car that has never happened. I’m pretty sure that the park rangers have better things to do at midnight than roust out persistent photographers — like getting some sleep of their own. Believe me, I would much rather be nestled in a nice campground on a soft mattress in a comfy tent. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and never fun sleeping in the car. “You call this camping? No way.” And that’s how I rationalize this wanton, rebellious act. (Price Schedule B)

Strawberry Sunbeams

Strawberry Reservoir Sunbeams

Their technical name is “crepuscular rays” but you and I know them as sunbeams. Their appearance generally requires clouds, the right sun angle, and some haze or mist in the atmosphere. But never mind the explanation — the effect is always celestial. We see these beams of light radiating from a mysterious, hidden source and it seems to depict gods, aliens, wisdom, salvation, whatever. Even though we all know darn well how they come to be, I find the urge to stop and marvel and photograph them irresistible.

This day I was on a completely non-photographic mission at Strawberry Reservoir along U.S. Highway 40 in Utah when the magic happened. I took a few quick shots braced against the car, then it melted away and I forgot about it for five years or so, before stumbling upon it recently and polishing it up. If only my memory was a good as my camera.

Cathedral Group Moon

Cathedral Group Moon

We are not used to seeing a full moon in a daytime sky and so, on first seeing this photograph, some people believe it is a composite image and couldn’t really exist. “Nice job with Photoshop.” is what I’m accustomed to hearing. It is real, however, and not all that uncommon. The morning after a full moon, it is still above the horizon for about an hour after sunrise, depending on the season. To create this picture of the “Cathedral Group” of peaks in Grand Teton National Park, I positioned myself to catch the setting full moon as it edged into the gold alpenglow of the Grand Teton summit at sunrise. Scattered cloud on the eastern horizon behind me provided a mottled effect to the lighting.

A nice stroke of luck to be in the right place at the right time, yes? Not exactly. I have a phone app which will show the time and direction of the setting and rising moon and sun from any point on earth, any day, past or future. Sure, you will suffer for your art — but I don’t want to get out of bed any earlier than I have to. (Pricing Schedule B)

Silk Road Sunset

Silk Road Sunset

An ancient stone fortress dominates the ethnic Tajik town of Tashkurgan, and to the north the imposing hulk of 7,000-meter Muztagh Ata sends it glacial fingers down steep clefts to the dry valleys below. This is Silk Road country, and traders have plied these routes for centuries as they shuttled costly goods between China and Europe. Things have changed, however. Silk and gunpowder are not longer the treasured commodities — now it is minerals and water. And, thanks to climate change, less water every year.

Tashkurgan — a surprising comfortable town for being so deep in the wilderness — and its regions find themselves torn between the interests of three billion people and their governments. The headwaters of eight important rivers are the new silk and gunpowder, and the diverse peoples of the region find themselves, as before, bystanders in a new struggle for resources.

Point Imperial, Grand Canyon

Imperial Point, Grand Canyon

Most people would tell you there is only one Grand Canyon. In reality, there are two; the South Rim, which everybody visits, and the North Rim, which sees much less attention. And while the Grand Canyon landscapes offered by both are classics, everything else about the two sites is dissimilar. The north is a completely different environment – high, colder, wetter, and more forested. The photography is different, too. In the north, morning light brings out the amazing textures structure, while evening light works best in the south. “Point Imperial” is the striking feature highlighted here by the sunrise.

After the Storm, West Yellowstone

After the Storm, West Yellowstone

I am the kind of photographer who meticulously plans and stalks my shots, as if I actually have control of anything. It’s a comforting illusion, easily punctured by chance. This shot comes from a ecology outing with fifteen students in which I had no photo plans at all. Hunkered down in camp near West Yellowstone, Montana, during a crashing thunderstorm, it broke up at sunset and I walked over the hill and captured this spread. That simple. How excellent to be reminded so beautifully that my fastidious planning should not be taken so seriously.

I shot this scene several different ways, but opted for this panorama constructed of nine separate frames: three horizontal frames digitally stitched with Panorama Maker 6.0 software; each of the three itself composed of three HDR exposures at 1 EV intervals, assembled with Photomatix Pro 4.2. (Price Schedule C)

Hong Kong Afternoon

I would call Hong Kong’s skyline one of the top five in the world for beauty and drama. I never get tired of its combination of hills, water, steel and optimism. Every year there is more to see, but it is more difficult to see because of increasing pollution. This trail on Victoria peak behind the Central district winds through dense forest, but provides an occasional view of this unique metropolis. But civilization has its downside in the brown haze that increasingly blocks the dramatic views. This evening I was lucky.

All is not well in Hong Kong, however. For both political and cultural reasons, Hong Kong residents are largely resisting assimilation into mainland China after its governance passed from Britain to China in 1997, leading to periods of civil disobedience and protest. For all its beauty and vitality, major changes for the small enclave of Hong Kong are inevitable. (Price Schedule F)

Huangshan West Sea, China

Huangshan West Sea, China

We all see them, the old Chinese scroll paintings depicting soaring, foggy, peaks with ancient pines, waterfalls dropping into mountain lakes, and we know it is the exaggerated fantasy allowed in art. But it’s not — it is real, and China’s Yellow Mountain, Huangshan, is the source of much of it. It is China’s most popular national park, and to visit is to know the country’s culture in a new way. For one thing, China’s engineers know how to build scary-but-safe trails on the faces of huge cliffs, and dare you to walk on them.

The overnight visitor learns that every pinnacle, crevice, cliff and promontory has its own weather. The wind and cloud that careens through the mountains interacts with every feature differently. Thus, when I went out early one morning into the storm covering the dramatic Huangshan gorge known as the West Sea, I knew not to give up. As I hiked along a narrow ledge, conditions got lighter but not better, and I began to think about turning back to a warm cup of tea. But Huangshan had other plans. I rounded a bend at a canyon overlook and the clouds swirled in the wind, allowing brief glimpses of one of China’s most fantastic landscapes. (Price Schedule B)

Sunset on Špik, Julian Alps

Sunset on Spik, Julian Alps

It’s no surprise they’re called the Julian Alps — Julius Caesar had a summer estate here. And what a place to unwind after a smashing the Huns or dominating debate in the forum! The dramatic natural beauty blending into serene countryside is certainly a place this 21st century photographer could linger forever. Even the Slovenian people are friendly and accessible in a utopian kind of way.

Špik is not the highest peak in the range, but it is easily one of the most dramatic, especially when sunset and a lifting storm wrap it in mystic clouds and light. It looks over a valley used since ancient times as easy route between Italy, Austria and the Balkans. Not only has it witnessed the passage of endless figures of history before and after Caesar — but they have, in turn, witnessed Špik. (Pricing Schedule D)

Mt. Moran From Schwabacher Landing

You have probably seen dozens of swooning landscapes from Schwabacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park. Heaven knows I’ve taken my share, but this is the one you have never seen before.

Schwabacher Landing is at the end of a dirt road where the Snake River sends little side channels through the woods and creates terrific reflections of the centerpiece peaks of the Tetons, the Cathedral Group. Photographers can position themselves for the classic reflection shot and not even have to unplug their heated coffee mugs from the SUV. But if you don’t like to follow the crowd, and I don’t, you start walking upstream, alone, looking out for bears (if you’ve forgotten your bear spray, don’t even think about it), until you come across this secret little pond. There, you point your camera north, to a different mountain. This is my reward. And now it’s yours. (Price Schedule A)

Calm on Mt. Tasman

Like many of the world’s most beautiful mountains, the Southern Alps in New Zealand owe their beauty to the constant storms that coat them with huge amounts of ice and snow…and which cover them with impenetrable clouds most of the time. I spent a week in 2010 prowling around the west coast of the South Island trying to get a break in the weather for a few decent shots, but it just wasn’t happening. The trails were closed and the guides didn’t mind, they could spend the Christmas holiday with their families.

Christmas morning came the break in the weather, and that is always big news at Fox Glacier — big enough that Christmas comes in second. I scrambled around for transportation and was able to get about 10 clear minutes on the glacier for a nice framing of Mt. Tasman before the weather closed in again. I was the only one to get a shot that day, but what a shot it turned out to be. The dramatic darkness of the sky, the lacy detail of fresh snow on the cliffs, and the approaching clouds produced a scene from which you can hardly turn away. (Pricing Schedule C)

Lower Falls Sunset, Yellowstone

Here we are in one of the most extraordinary setting in the natural world — Artist Point at Yellowstone National Park — and…where is everybody? Well, two hours ago, people were stacked three deep admiring the usual view of the Yellowstone River Lower Falls, but I didn’t even have my camera out of the bag. However, I knew what was coming, so while everyone retired to their dinner and other distractions, I could photograph – absolutely alone – a pretty okay sunset in an immensely okay setting.

This was not an easy photograph to make – the brightness of the sky and the darkness of the canyon are very hard to reconcile. I’m still not sure I have it right. I’ll probably try this shot a few more times over coming years. But one thing will remain true – I will never have to fight the crowds. (Pricing Schedule D)

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Karst terrains are some of the most atmospheric and beautiful on Earth. The Ha Long area of northern Vietnam, where limestone towers and cliffs rise suddenly out of the sea, is one of the most remarkable of these. Dozens of major movies that needed the drama and mystery of these forest-encrusted towers have been filmed here.

Capturing Ha Long’s majesty in photographs depends a lot of the weather of the moment. This day, with a heavy haze obscuring detail, pointed the way to long telephoto shots and monotones, working with the ever-receding layers of ridges to distant horizons. (Price Schedule D)


Lewis River Evening

Dusk, Lewis River

More beautiful photographs have been overlooked than have ever been taken. One of the main ways this happens is by becoming too focused on where you are going, and ignoring where you came from. You have arrived at your subject and taken the obvious photograph. You are walking away with a satisfied feeling and suddenly, shockingly — they place you just came from is revealed in a wonderful new light that you have never seen before. This has happened to me so many times that I have made it a habit, on the way to somewhere, to stop every now and then and look back to where I came from.

That’s the way this shot happened. I was driving back to Yellowstone National Park in late evening after a good day shooting in the Tetons. At the Lewis River Falls I happened to check my rear view mirror and see this glorious scene. Lucky, I’m tempted to say, but it wasn’t — it was habit. (Pricing Schedule E)

Grand Canyon, Yellowstone

Afternoon light filtered through clouds brings out the arresting colors and textures of America’s “second Grand Canyon,” the cleft in Yellowstone National Park left by the Yellowstone River. Not nearly as deep as the first Grand Canyon, it is nevertheless magnificent for its red and yellow volcanic slopes dropping directly to the raging green river below. It is the yellow sulfurous rock of this canyon that inspired the name of America’s first national park.

Nearly four million people visit Yellowstone in a typical year, and virtually all of them stand at this spot, Artist Point. They are looking in a different direction, however, and often miss this view. A 180-degree pivot away is the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, so mesmerizing that everyone forgets to turn around. (Pricing Schedule D)

Uinta Sunset Panorama

Utah’s highest mountain range has a unique look that sets it apart from the Rocky Mountains in general. Tall, rounded peaks, dense forests, with young, drainages and hundreds of lakes provide an ideal environment for backpackers and mosquitoes alike.

Jagged, toothy Hayden Peak is an exception to the rule, and is easily the most photogenic and accessible peak in the range. Here it appears at sunset, with the shoulder of Bald Mountain, a more typical Uinta domed peak, in the foreground. (Pricing Schedule D)