The orange cast to this photo is completely natural, and appropriate; it was captured on Halloween Day, 2017, at the very moment mountains of candy were changing hands in cities and towns across the USA. Believe it or not, that was on my mind as I stood freezing at the edge of a wilderness pond over 10,000 feet in elevation, night closing in. My brand of photographic art can be a lonely endeavor, and I often observe to myself that I stand at an improbable time and place doing solitary things while most people, I imagine, are doing more normal and social activities. When my images are occasionally successful, compliments overflow but people seldom realize the strange circumstances in which they came to be. I wonder if I should perhaps go easier in my obsessive pursuit of beautiful visual moments. But then, I wouldn’t have the enjoyment of telling these exotic stories.
The centerpiece of this photograph is Hayden Peak, a landmark in the High Uinta Wilderness Area that residents of the region know very well. It is essentially a pilgrimage site for thousands who drive for hours to see its crags rising from the forest. No crowds today, however, due to both the holiday and the pre-winter chill. I had been stalking this shot for three days, under a bit of time pressure because the roads could be closed any day by winter storms. With the last shot in the can, I hiked back to the car and startled the last group of elk coming down from the high peaks and headed for the winter lowlands. They, at least, completely understood what I was doing.
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)
Two Further to Fly works, “Lesson” and “Sorica Village Church,” will hang at the Springville Museum of Art’s upcoming show, “32nd Annual Spiritual and Religious Art of Utah.” The show opens October 18, 2017, and runs through January 10th. Both works are photographs.
“Lesson” depicts two young novice monks, around seven years old, reading a text together. The photograph was made by Tom Horton in 2012 at Schwe Yan Pyay monastery in Nyaungshwe, Shan State, Myanmar. A class was underway on a warm afternoon, Tom recalls, and many other novices in the room were bored and nodding off, but these two were clearly interested in the lesson.
Sorica is a small mountain village in Bohinj province, Slovenia. In October of 2013, Tom captured an image of the village church on the crest of its hill as the afternoon sun highlighted it against the dark forest. It is an Eastern Orthodox church dedicated to St. Nicholas, and contains important works of the impressionist painter Ivan Grohar, a native of Sorica. The mustard yellow panels of the white church pick up the afternoon sun and rivet the eye to the scene, Tom notes.
Springville Museum of Art, the first visual arts museum in Utah, has curated this multi-media exhibition annually for 32 years to “celebrate the diversity of religious experience and belief in our community. Using different media to express these ideas artists create works which will engage and inspire viewers to contemplate and reflect on the vibrant spiritual traditions we share.”
A public reception will open the exhibition at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, October 18. The museum is in Utah County, several miles south of Provo, Utah. (map)
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.
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.”
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,
Apparently I have developed a reputation for photographing different places in unusual ways, because the Wasatch Camera Club in Salt Lake City, Utah, asked me to divulge some of my secrets. I was happy to do this, of course, but I got to thinking there is a deeper question to be addressed: WHY would you bother to find your own hidden places and secret times? After all, it is much more work, with a higher incidence of failure, than just tagging along with everybody else. You have to want to do it. So the first half of the presentation is about the “why” question, and the second half gets into actual locations and times. I’ve provided the original Powerpoint in PDF format without narration. You can view it live at the link below or download it. The slides should be self-explanatory, but please leave comments and questions and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Enjoy!
“Ice out” is a phrase full of meaning to those who live in cold-winter country. It means that warm weather has arrived and progressed to the point where oceans, lakes, rivers and streams are usable again. The ice that locked them out for months is gone. If you made a living on the water, you can now resume your work. If water was the source of your sport and recreation, the fun returns. Ice out is preceded by a time of frustration, because the weather in general may be warm and sunny, but the ice melts with agonizing delay, and life seems unjust for a while.
To the artist, “ice out” is often a thing of beauty. Patches of water in the ice, or ice in the water, are a yin and yang juxtapostion of pattern and color, past and future, anticipation and change. It is exactly the stuff of expression and wonder that artists are made of. It is often inspirational. I encountered this scene at sunset in a small Uinta Mountain lake — still early summer because the winter had been unusually cold and stormy. In a normal year it would be lush and lively with singing birds and lily pads — but often, normal is not particularly beautiful, not the stuff of art. (Pricing schedule A)
Bears’ Ears National Monument is the poster child for the many national monuments and other wild public lands that the Trump administration would like to turn over to state and private development — this despite every poll showing overwhelming popular support for their protection. Bears’ Ears has the added impetus of being co-created by various southwest native American tribes to protect, both literally and symbolically, thousands of years of heritage and antiquities. To a pitiable few, this is all the more reason to oppose it.
Beauty is but one of many reasons that public lands are a refuge in modern times. Being an artist, my inclination is to seek out and record the natural beauty of these lands, which they possess in abundance. Like many others, I have found a great deal — some of it well-documented and some of it unique to my vision. Presenting it here may or may not make and difference in the outcome of the struggle for preservation, but it is what I can do:
“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.
“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.
“The autumn foliage colors were great in Park city this year,” notes FTF photographer Tom Horton, “and I will have several new local autumn color photos available.”
The Art Elevated Holiday Market runs December 2nd through 4th, at preserves visitor center at Kimball Junction, Park City. Several local artists will display and sell their work, and local entertainers will provide a fun holiday experience. The preserve is an ecology education center operated by Utah State University.
“Slot” canyons — of which the Subway is one — are the darlings of southwestern US geography. They are narrow defiles carved in layers of sandstone hundreds of feet deep — so narrow that it is difficult to walk through them in places, and so deep that sunlight may reach to the bottom only a few minutes a day when the sun is directly overhead. They are often in remote wilderness locations, and require heroic hiking, climbing and/or swimming skills to navigate. Slot canyons attain their unusually tall and narrow forms due to flash floods that carry tons of fine sand that can grind though the soft sandstone relatively quickly.
One of the finest of these is “The Subway” in Zion National Park, so named because the flume at the bottom has an oval shape reminiscent of a train tunnel. True to its kind, it is very hard to get to, a long distance from trailheads on very rough, sometimes dangerous trails. The photographer is awarded an extra penalty, not only having to pack in heavy gear, but to do part of it in the dark so that the light on scene is just right. Attacking The Subway in the fall is a great choice, not only because the midsummer heat is absent, but because colorful fall leaves adorn the stream and canyon bottom. (Pricing Schedule B)
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Further To Fly’s panoramic photograph, “Earth, Air, Wind, Fire,” an image of the Great Salt Lake in winter, is a finalist for the Alfred Lambourne Prize in visual arts, which will be awarded by the Friends of the Great Salt Lake on September 16. The public is welcome to attend this annual celebration of the lake and the arts — see attached invitation.
This long-abandoned farm wagon sits in a most unlikely place — along a creek bottom in the once-remote desert wilderness of what is now Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. This oasis is in a forbidding landscape that was one of the last districts of the American west to be explored and settled. Pioneer Farmers in this valley date from 1908, a good 40 years after the last of its wagon cousins carried pioneer all the way across the continent. It sounds sentimental, but standing in this spot, photographing this relic, does carry you back in time for a moment.
Many US national parks are based on pristine wilderness….but not all. Capitol Reef National Park in Utah is a good example of the latter. Pioneer farms dotted the habitable places long before anyone ever thought of setting the area aside as a national park. Here, visitors can be surprised a bit as the park incorporates an entire small community — the village of Fruita, where canyon-bottom orchards are still harvested for sweet fruit, and the summer hay is taken in to feed livestock. In virtually all national parks with pre-existing habitations, they have been incorporated into the park history, and operated consistent with the national parks’ historical mission. (Pricing Schedule E)
Many US national parks are based on pristine wilderness….but not all. Capitol Reef National Park in Utah is a good example of the latter. Pioneer farms dotted the habitable places long before anyone ever thought of setting aside the area as a national park. Here, visitors can be surprised a bit as the park incorporates an entire small community — the village of Fruita, where canyon-bottom orchards are still harvested for sweet fruit, and the summer hay is taken in to feed livestock. In virtually all national parks with pre-existing habitations, they have been incorporated into the park history, and operated consistent with the national parks’ historical mission.
The Gifford Barn and the nearby homestead at Capitol Reef fits like a charm. Its third occupant family since it’s construction in 1908 sold it to the park in 1969, but it continues to host visitors and livestock. It is easy to imagine what must have been an idyllic existence working the land in the shadow of isolated, spectacular cliffs and skies. Photographing the Gifford Barn has the same effect — kind of slow, relaxing, and homey. My intention is that the photograph conveys the same feeling. (Pricing Schedule E)
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.
Many of our so-called domesticated animals are quite happy to call it quits with people and return to wildness if given the chance. So it is with horses. The western US states host as many as 30,000 feral animals making up several hundred herds. All of them are the descendants of domestic horses that escaped their confines as long as 200 years ago. They are so successful roaming remote deserts and rangeland that their population is a problem, outstripping their resources. They would damage environments and starve if not for soft-hearted Americans who prop them up with food and water. We cannot bring ourselves to see them hurt, even though managing them becomes ever more expensive.
The Onaqui Mountain group of perhaps 200 horses lives in western Utah’s Great Basin, within sight of the salt pans of the Great American Desert. Despite our desire to see them romantically as bold, strong, free-spirited masters of nature, their existence is tenuous in every direction. We may run out of time and money to manage them, or just tire of the task. If left on their own, the next drought will mow them down like desert grass. There are too many to adopt. As I looked over these photographs in the light of their uncertain future, they seemed to be ephemeral and ghost-like, and that is why I chose to make them glow. They seem to be arriving and leaving at the same time, halfway in and halfway out of the world.
In landscape photos lit by the sun, we seldom photograph the sun. It is too bright for most photography and actually a boring subject. It is the effect of the sun, not the sun itself, that makes the magic.
The moon is a bit different because it is much less bright, has some visual detail, and can be an interesting subject in itself. So when we shoot the moon, we often want the moon itself to be a main subject of the shot. This photograph, “Zion Moon,” takes a different direction. The silhouette of cliffs in Zion National Park, and the movement of the moonlit clouds during the long exposure provide the visual drama. It is much more like a daytime landscape than a night shot. (Pricing schedule D)
Further to Fly has donated “Wasatch Autumn,” a 48″ x 38″ exquisitely-framed photograph, to the National Ability Center’s Red,White and Snow fundraising gala March 5th at the Montage Resort in Park City. Preview this work at the NAC auction online site. The event always sells out quickly, but you may bid online if you missed the ticket sales.
Honored to be judging the winter competition of the Wasatch Camera Club, and critiquing selected photos. These photographers are serious about their craft and are producing some exceptional work. If you’re a Utah photographer, you should affiliate here and you are guaranteed to learn a lot!