How is Happened: Total Eclipse 2017

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We were kind of totally unprepared for this trip. With about 48 hours before the eclipse we finally decided on driving 12 hours north to Wyoming. The day before we left I realized I bought the wrong eclipse glasses and the wrong filter for my camera. My main camera and drone were in repair, so I only had my back ups to work with. At about 9pm the night before we left we found one pair of glasses (the correct ones) from someone that lived on my street. Leaving the next day at 730am, perfectly on time (so unlike me), was the start of it all.
It was a beautiful day that was only suppose to be about 8 hours to Lander, Wyoming. Once we arrived, right before sunset, we realized we were not right in the path of totality. So we decided to drive East towards a reservoir. After 45 minutes of driving we were both questioning our decision to head east instead of west towards the Tetons. After a few minutes of silent thinking, we turned around an arrived in Dubois, Wyoming around 9pm.
It was surprisingly quiet. Although every camp spot and hotel were taken, except for the Super 8 charging $1,046 for their 1 star room. We pulled into one motel named after a black bear. They had room for one tent for $150 to setup on the parking lot. Not ideal, but we were pooped. So we decided to stay. Once we were about to setup, we talked to a woman at the hotel that gave us a mans number that was renting spots up the street. We called him, he told us about these giant tee pees he has setup on the river. Way cooler. So we decide to Tee Pee it for a night. The man, who’s name I have forgotten, said he would come escort us to the Tee Pee. Actually he said, “This is a cowboy town, we’re just happy to have you.” Also, way cooler. Driving up the street, to a dirt road and a dark piece of land, he shined his light on this 20 foot tall Tee Pee that was home for the night. (Don’t worry Mom, it was safe.)
The morning was nice, much warmer than the sleep the night before. After coffee and a mini photo shoot with the Tee Pee and our three dog crew, we were off. To where? We did not know.
Surprisingly enough the road from Dubois to the Tetons was almost exactly down the line of totality. At about 9am, we drove towards the Tetons. Knowing we were not going to make it in time we looked on our map and saw a dirt road headed into a more mountainous area. The excitement and amount of risk we were taking, with as little of time we had, made for a very interesting feeling. We knew we were going to see a total eclipse at whatever spot we were at in Dubois, but the hunt for that perfectly serene spot was the most exciting and scary thing of it all. After driving 10-15 miles only seeing trees and an okay view of the Pinnacles, we were wondering if we should have turned around. There was literally 9 minutes until the eclipse began. And then after that we had a little over an hour until totality. Would you say we were cutting it close? Nah.
But then, we came to an opening in the road. On each side a small river passed through. Wildflowers growing in an open field next to it and a dirt road around the side with a perfect view of the Pinnacle Buttes, the river, and the soon to be eclipse. We setup our chairs, let the dogs run around and kind of stood in awe for a moment. In awe, that we could be the only ones in the world viewing the eclipse from this absolutely breathtaking view.
The funny thing, after all the articles I read saying not to leave your town because of crowds, it was just the two of us.
The feeling of being alone, in the middle of the woods, listening to water run over the rocks by the river, being towered over by a mountain and suddenly having the warm day turn into a cool night was easily the most amazing and strangest thing I have ever experienced in nature. I know I sound like a total free spirit hippie. But it seriously is still hard to put into words.
We went into town after. And each shop we went into greeted us with a, “How was your eclipse?” Almost like asking if my lunch I just ordered was good. It was cute and made me feel a since of home. Talking with others that saw it was reassuring that I was not the crazy hippie in the woods. Everyone had some ethereal feeling before, during and after.
I know this is the longest story ever. And if you’ve gotten this far, you are awesome. But it felt nice. To get away from “all of it” and have everyone in the country get together in some sort of positive way. For all of us to get excited about something amazing in this world, this country. There are things like this everyday. Things that give you that nice, warm, happy feeling. And although they may not be as grand as a Total Eclipse and you may not need super stylish paper glasses to watch them through. You’ve just got to find the positive, with someone special and share it with everyone else. Thanks for reading.
 

“Roughing It”

{County Antrim : 2015} I awoke in the tiny camper van a little chilled but still somewhat warm. Threw on what I was hoping were clean clothes and began to make instant, flavorless coffee and pack my 40 lb Camera Bag. Minutes later I slid open the giant door to start a walk uphill to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge​. It was cold and windy and early. Some I have told this story to have called this “Roughing It”.
Rewind 350 years. There is a Man my age waking up from his tent made of cloth. He is not having coffee this morning because the fire will not start due to the wind. He starts his hike in the clothes he slept with and has been wearing that past few days. He’s also carrying up to 100 lbs. of Fishing line and Net uphill to fish for Salmon. Upon arriving to the Rope Bridge there is no hesitation, even with the site of giant holes in the floor and only a single piece of rope to hold onto. After a full day of fishing he carries his catch and gear back on the same bridge in the same heavy wind only to wake up and do it again the next day. I’d say, that is Roughing It.

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www.KiKiMPhotography.com

Calf Creek, Escalante National Park, Utah {From Journal Entry on Day 10 June 12th 2014}

A guide to a full moon hike amongst million year old rocks; ending in a rewarding and secluded 126 foot waterfall.

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2,256 miles from my home in Florida, lies one of my favorite hikes. After over 10 years of hiking and countless times thinking my favorite hike would be in some far away land, I am proud to say that the most rewarding and thought-provoking hike I have adventured on is in Utah.

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Before the hike begins you are welcomed with a picturesque countryside ride along State Road 12. Scattered along the highway are artists studios, small mom and pop shops, and original buildings and art that makes the town unique.
About 15 miles east of Escalante, while winding around skinny curves hugging the mountain side, you come upon Calf Creek Campgrounds on the right.
It is definitely hard to miss, especially because we were coming from Moab and headed to Bryce National Park an Hour before. It was getting late, and we hadn’t stopped much to make any photos, so it was a whim of a turn.
I’ll be honest, coming in and doing the initial loop around the tiny 15 spot campground, you are not overwhelmed with jaw dropping beauty. We actually decided we didn’t want to stay there and headed for the exit. In comes the story of David (almost sounds biblical). David was the Campground host. He saw us come in and promptly go out, but not before stopping us and asking for a “u”turn.
David was dressed in khaki jorts (jean shorts), wearing weathered boots, and a shirt that said “ Nothing scares me”—seems like a guy you can trust. He was actually very knowledgeable on the area and, after a little small talk, he convinced us to embark on this hike that he described as “magical”, “Serene”, and“secluded”. As photographers, this sounded pretty amazing, so we stayed. Just a little foreshadowing, I thanked David and brought him breakfast the next morning. I also later sent him an image of the waterfall that I photographed at Midnight. That’s how thankful I was that he randomly stopped us just to suggest we take this hike.
Anyway, it happened to be a full moon—which saved us multiple times. We started the hike at sunset, so 7:30/8pm in the Summer. After a quick gear check and tent setup, the three of us (Alex, Lola the Dog, and I) set out on a 3 mile hike to a 126 foot waterfall.

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It wasn’t a tough hike, most likely because there was not much of an altitude increase, flat terrain and flat rock but there were several parts where you were walking through thick sand. It is also not marked very well, especially at night. Several times on the way back we relied on Lola the dog to guide us back, as most times she walked ahead.
We were the only ones on the hike. For three miles in the darkness, we walked completely secluded to an area we had hoped was as wonderful as David had painted. It was creepy and I have no problem admitting that after the sunset I was a little nervous…until I started hearing the roar of the falls. My fear was most likely from just being in the darkness and walking in the “unknown”because, from what I saw, it was a safe area, filled with everyday people that enjoyed nature. But the hike requires a good head lamp and sense of direction. Although, for the most part, you are just hiking parallel to the river and highway 12.

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As the sound of the water hitting the rocks below becomes more intense you will find your way to a canopy of trees that lead to a small, but incredibly powerful scenery. You will see a 126 foot free falling waterfall that is carved out of a canyon painted with green and red tones. The variations of reds and oranges on the sandstone have taken millions of years to form and jolt up from the tiny pool below that is lined with dark colored, perfectly-rounded volcanic rocks, washed down by lava years ago and now glistening in the moon light. It was unbelievable to us that we shared this view, on this perfect night, all alone.

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You can find shelter under the trees around the pool and, if you happen to catch it on a full moon (which I recommend), you will see the waterfall like very few people have. Two hours of exploring every grain of the Lower Calf Creek Falls, after waiting for the moon to rise high enough and illuminate the entire wall, we got this.

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The entire waterfall lit up by the moon was one of the most romantic scenes I have ever photographed. I very rarely use romantic as a term to describe my photography, but the sheer fact that this seemed untouched by anyone else on this pristine night, underneath the stars and full moon, with only the sounds of water touching the ground after a 126 foot descent, seemed like a storybook tale. It made us feel small and humble to what this earth has to hold in history and beauty.

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After almost two hours of photographing the falls and surrounding area, around 11pm, we headed back to camp. Thank goodness for Lola the Dog who guided us in the right direction. Even with the full moon, you could barely see the white arrows painted on the rocks directing you back to the trailhead. We made it back in about 1.5 hours and enjoyed a well deserved nights sleep.

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After our naive comments about no one knowing about the hike, we awoke to hundreds of people in tour buses starting the hike at 9am. Apparently It was well-known, especially during the day in the summer months. But I still think we caught it at the best time. And you can too—just wait for that full moon to light your way.

Calf Creek_KiKiCreates11 My Actual Journal Entry from the Day:

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Is Your Photo Worth It?

What do you think about when you visit historic places? When you walk through castles that royalty stepped foot in hundreds of years ago. When you stroll over bridges that sustained life in tiny towns in the 1700’s. When you are viewing a waterfall on the coast of an island that took over 400 million years to form in its current state. I ask this because I see people walk through areas I photograph; areas I sit around and enjoy, as well as capture. I see them walk up, snap a photo, and leave. I always wonder if in that split second they realize the magnitude of the images they have just taken. The image that could have taken hundreds if not millions of years to come about. If they think about what people so many years ago did and thought when these “places” were originally discovered or came to be. How different and somewhat more rewarding life is now. Easier, if you will. I just think about how much work, history, science, time it has taken for me to come to this point. To this moment where I am photographing something that is not only changing, but has changed the life and world around us several times over.
Many moons from now, when our time has come and gone, there will be others. And these photographs of these places will be different. Because that’s how things are, they change.

{Mealt Falls : Isle of Skye : 2015}

       {Mealt Falls : Isle of Skye : 2015}

Would love to hear your answers.

KiKi

www.KiKiMPhotography.com

First Light, First Post

My first post on my landscape & travel blog. After months of putting this off and wondering what grand idea or statement I could make to start off something that seems to be a never ending project for me. And instead of pondering an elaborate way to start, I will simply do what I have with every other endeavor I have accomplished. I will just, start. With a little story of a moment while making photographs…….

I’ll never forget the serene 7 hours I spent in Yosemite National Park. It was not nearly as much time as I had always imaged spending there. Especially for my first time. So many years of looking through Ansel Adams photos with the hopes to one day photograph at such a beautiful location only to arrive and leave in under 7 hours. I know it’s pathetic, but I was passing through and on a strict schedule, so I had no choice. A short trip yes; but still very rewarding.

To begin, this was one of the more rewarding adventures I’ve taken as it was the first time I had ever attempted driving from Coast to Coast, alone. San Fransisco, California to Neptune Beach, Florida. I had just completed a 6 week road trip with my good friend Alex. We traveled from Florida to Colorado, up to Canada and down the Pacific Coast Highway. He was catching a flight back to Florida as I took my time driving back. It was an anticlimactic end to our epic 7,000 mile trip based on what I had been building up to in my head. We hugged and I could feel the 6 weeks of adventure pass through my mind in a flash and then I was driving again.

I started towards a route a little out of my way so that I could see the Golden Gate Bridge and then down to Golden Gate Park to see the ocean. I continued on to Yosemite, during rush hour I might add. It took twice as long with me arriving at around 1 am. I had no idea where I was going. Luckily I had a very nice dinner packed for my dog Lola and I. We sat at the welcome center and dined on tomato soup in a can, crackers, applesauce and peanut M&M’s for dessert. It was the busy summer months so almost ever camp site was booked. I scanned the park map trying to look for the only site left; realizing very shortly that even though I had arrived, I still had at least another hour of driving before I made it to my camp site. It was pitch black, no moon, absolutely wonderful weather. I could see every star in the sky and I could hear nothing. It was magical.

My Camp Site at Yosemite at 2AM.

My Camp Site at Yosemite at 2AM.

I setup camp in what seemed like seconds. Lola sat in the tent as I photographed the stars and camping spot while drinking a bit of red wine I had left. After a few quick photos I sat in the tent and had a sudden urge to write in my journal (something that does not happen often). After ranting for an astounding three pages, my wine took the best of me and I was out like a light.

When I camp alone I am on the exact opposite schedule than if I had company. When alone, I go to bed when the sun sets and wake up before it rises. Maybe it’s the paranoia of camping alone, but it’s rewarding and a huge change of pace for me to be up before the sun. I woke up around 5 am and took a long moment to look up at the stars through the open top of the tent. They were framed perfectly by the trees around me and for a moment I thought about how far away I was from home. First time I had done that in a while. I packed up camp faster than I setup and barely slept 2 hours but felt as if I had been in hibernation for months. No one was up. Five hours in one of the busiest national parks and I still had yet to see anyone other than the woman that checked my pass when entering. It was one of the best situations I could be in.

I remember leaving my camp site so quickly and having this overwhelming feeling that I was doing something wrong. Up before anyone else, in the pitch black, driving and wandering around to where I don’t know because I was still lost. It wasn’t until the sun started peeking over the horizon, as trees parted and the road opened up to a perfect view of half dome that it felt right. I was in awe. Right off of a road that led to what I thought was my way to the highway, was an image that I had seen so many times, from so many angles and I had an uninterrupted view, alone at sunrise.

I remember one of my professors saying that if you don’t explore you subject entirely the only one that is losing is you. So Lola and I took advantage of our alone time and started a private tour of our roadway stop. Everything was so fresh and golden from the sun. It was the kind of light that would illuminate your whole body but if you turned the right way you would be in complete darkness again. It was such a rare moment for me. Taking in everything around me at my pace and just falling in love with the simple stillness it made me feel. After walking in a very linear motion I decided to turn around. And that is where you see the below photo.

First light touching the mountains in Yosemite.

First light touching the mountains in Yosemite.

The thing about my vacations, as everyone calls them, is that they are adventures. I don’t look at them as a time of leisure, but a time of creation. And through creation I find what makes me the happiest. A kind of peace and serenity that I cannot find back home. Something that entails coordinating your schedule to the earth’s, finding some secret beautiful spot of nature all to yourself, learning about what makes it so majestic and then recreating it the way I see it.  That make me feel the biggest sense of accomplishment. And that’s what I intend to share on my blog as I travel and photograph landscapes.

KiKi