#386. Feeling Blue in Arizona ?

By pascaljappy | Travel Photography

Jul 29

“Arizona, the Grand Canyon state”. Or so say the local registration plates that do not support a local sports team or a personal 1-word mission statement.

DSC03139-PanoSeems a tad reductive, though. There are so many canyons around here and they come in all shapes, sizes and … colours.DSC03125-PanoDuring my trip, I had hoped to visit Blue Canyon. But it is a hard to get to canyon, requiring high clearance 4x4s and a guide.DSC03117-PanoExtra research produced wonderful alternate candidates: Coal Mine Canyon and Ha Ho No Geh Canyon. Easily accessible, beautiful and not yet over-photographed. And, did I mention : blue.DSC03108But that didn’t happen either. My fault. Bad planning plus unforeseen events meant I arrived on site at completely the wrong time, so I didn’t bother driving 30 miles from Tuba City.DSC03112-PanoBut remember that post on Holbrook and how I mentioned its proximity to Petrified Forest?

Petrified Forest is not all about petrified trunks lying on the ground. It is also home to Blue Mesa, a trail through, you guessed it, a blue canyon.

DSC03093And Blue Mesa sure delivered, as you can see on these photographs.

DSC03094-PanoI don’t usually fuss about golden hours but my advise is to make the effort to turn up when the sun is low. The blue tones in these canyons are a grey blue to pale violet and easily washed out. Even at 10 AM, see here, it is getting dodgy.DSC03089Gear: this was one of my 35 + 50 days (Distagon 35/1.4 ZM & C-Sonnar 50/1.5 ZM). A polariser was used for both. Camera: my faithful Sony A7r, which did its very best to screw up every single shot with poor white balance decisions but also shone with great dynamic range.  DSC03090-PanoNext stop, slightly further North. But that will be for another day. I’ll be offline for a few days. Be seeing you 🙂



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  • PaulB says:


    Of all my trips to Arizona the Petrified Forest is one location I have not been to.

    Your images do show that this is a worthy stop. Though I would say you are correct, 10:00 am in July is a bit late in the day. Even with a polarizing filter, which I would probably have welded to my lenses to bring out the subtileness of the landscape. Were you able to be there during the golden hours of the day?

    Concerning the Sony’s ability to auto white balance. I am not too surprised. Japan has nothing to compare to the intense sun, heat, and dynamic landscape of Arizona. So it is no wonder that the auto white balance is confused.

    You might need to go to a local WalMart to buy a few things. Such as a white wash cloth for a custom white balance target, and a white bath towel to cover the steering wheel and drivers seat of your rental car (I bet they are getting very hot in the sun ).


    • pascaljappy says:

      Yes, those places have very delicate colours that require the best light possible. I wasn’t able to return ata better time, unfortunately. It’s probably best to visit at an other period. The park opens at 7 AM but the sun rises at 5.20. By the time you reach Blue Mesa, you’re at least 2 hours into the sunlight.

      The Sony’s white balance has always been very shaky, but this light really brings the worst behaviour to the front 😉


  • Willis Branscomb says:

    Tackle the tasting menu at Lon s.Chef James Ducas tasting menu is like a play in five acts, opening with tea-cured ahi in togarashi aioli, climaxing with smoked pork in Arizona date mole, and bringing down the house with death by chocolate pudding cake.

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