Moraine Lake to Waimea Canyon: My Top 10 Photo Spots

Posted on December 9, 2015 by Mickey

Everyone has those favorite places they love to visit. Whether it’s hiking in Switzerland, walking in the sand at the Pacific Ocean as waves roll in on a wild beach, or watching buffalo roam the tallgrass prairie in the Flint Hills, we all have our special places! My favorite places to photograph have evolved dramatically over the past 6-7 years as I’ve picked up a camera and photographed the places I travel to. I wanted to share some of these favorite places to photograph with you. This list only consists of places I’ve been too. If I had been hiking in at Torres del Paine in Chile, traveling the countryside of New Zealand or photographing under the stars at Monument Rocks in western Kansas, I would imagine this list would be even harder. But I’m only going off of places I’ve been to over and over again! I really struggled to decide this list. The top three in particular kept changing places as I was writing this. If you were to ask me to name my favorite spot to photograph in any given week, it would probably change weekly.

Also keep in mind that this list is based of my favorite places to photograph, not visit. There are undoubtedly a few spots I would have much higher on this list (Chamonix-Mont Blanc in France, Vancouver Island, the Chateau de Chillon in Switzerland) had my photography plans in those places worked out better. Poor lighting, lack of time and more kept these places off this list. These are simply the top 10 places I’ve had the pleasure of photographing.

1. Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Moraine Lake Sunset
Moraine Lake SunsetPrints Available
A beautiful Moraine Lake sunset

When I visited the Canadian Rockies back in 2012, the place I tended to always gravitate back to was Moraine Lake. While driving up and down the beautiful Icefields Parkway, I probably visited Moraine Lake 5 times in 3 days. It’s a special place, and easily the most beautiful alpine lake I’ve ever seen.

2. Keeper of the Plains, Wichita, Kansas

Keeper of the Plains Lightning Bolt
Keeper of the Plains Lightning BoltPrints Available
A lightning bolt frames the Keeper of the Plains

This is my go-to spot for photography. It’s treated me well. A lot of my best images are from this Wichita icon, and while the mountains are always my favorite terrain, the Keeper of the Plains has become a constant subject in my work that no other place has filled. I’ve shot more images at the Keeper of the Plains than any other place in the world, and I keep going back for more and more!

3. Wengen, Berner Oberland, Wengen, Switzerland

Dusk In Wengen
Dusk In WengenPrints Available
Twilight settles at dusk in Wengen, Switzerland

Much like Moraine Lake, the view from the bench at the church in Wengen, Switzerland was a spot I continued to return to on my trip through the Alps for photography. It’s also the spot I long to go back to most in Europe someday.

4. Dallas Divide/Sneffels Wilderness, Ridgway, Colorado

Colorado Wildflowers
Colorado WildflowersPrints Available
A field of wildflowers on the slopes of Mount Sneffels

The Dallas Divide on the north side of the San Juans in the Colorado Rockies have become my favorite place in all of Colorado to visit. There’s a two-fold reason. My hike in 2011 to Blue Lakes in the Sneffels Wilderness produced some of the most beautiful wildflower displays I have ever seen! Second, Dallas Divide is easily my favorite spot to return to for autumn colors, as the vistas along it’s many backroads are unforgettable!

5. Big Sur, California

Big Sur Sunset
Big Sur SunsetPrints Available
A beautiful Big Sur sunset

I’ve now visited Big Sur twice. Once was for a brief morning in early 2012 that produced a spectacular sunrise. The second was in autumn of 2015, which also produced some of the best sunrises and sunsets of the entire year for me. One particular sunset was one of the best I’ve ever photographed! My favorite spot along Big Sur: McWay Falls. Not only does it have a beautiful tidefall waterfall that drops directly into the ocean at a gorgeous beach, but the view back towards the north is also spectacular!

6. Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado

Maroon Creek
Maroon CreekPrints Available
The Maroon Bells tower above a wildflower lined Maroon Creek

I’m not sure why it took me so long to visit the Maroon Bells in my years of visited Colorado, but I’ve been back almost every year since! Once for wildflowers, but mostly for the beautiful fall colors. Pro-tip: Droves of people will line the northwest shore of Maroon Lake to get the classic reflective Maroon Bells shot, but I find walking to the far side of the lake and photographing the various angles there far more rewarding. I don’t know how many times I’ve shown up for a sunrise with 200 other people fighting for rock or something in their foreground at the edge of the lake, only to find views along Maroon Creek completely deserted.

7. Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Mystical Dream Lake
Mystical Dream LakePrints Available
A foggy Memorial Day morning at Dream Lake

If you had asked me in the years prior to taking my photography as seriously as I do now, Rocky Mountain National Park would be #1 without a shadow of a doubt. I’ve since visited some amazing places in the world, but I’ll always hold a soft spot for Dream Lake in Colorado.

8. Waimea Canyon, Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea Canyon Rainbow
Waimea Canyon RainbowPrints Available
Waimea Canyon is graced by a vivid rainbow near Waipoo Falls

There were a few places on Kauai that I kept returning to in the week I spent on the island. The one that produced the best images was the Waimea Canyon. I continued to drive up that road to the canyon and into Kokee State Park beyond. Other spots on Kauai that almost made this list include the Kilauea Lighthouse, Hanalei Bay and the Napali Coast.

9. Teter Rock, near Cassoday, Kansas

Teter Rock Winter Milky Way
Teter Rock Winter Milky WayPrints Available
The Milky Way shines bright above Teter Rock

Teter Rock has become my go-to spot for shooting Milky Way and star scenes in recent years. Far enough away from city lights, but within an hour and a half drive from Wichita, it makes for an easy getaway to get out under the stars. It’s also a great place to photograph a good Kansas thunderstorm as it rolls across the prairie.

10. The Old Mill, Little Rock Arkansas

Old Mill Gardens
Old Mill GardensPrints Available
Spring blooms at the Old Mill

I’ve only visited the Old Mill once, but the shots I got for the little time I spent there rank up there as some of my favorites. The one pictured here was a particular favorite. While most of Arkansas is probably inundated with images from the Old Mill (it’s a Little Rock icon), for a tourist looking for a great place to photograph, it was the perfect spot!

Other spots I loved photographing at:
Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park, Canada
Kilauea Lighthouse, Kauai
Lauterbrunnen Valley Floor, Switzerland
Hanging Lake, Colorado
Peyto Lake, Banff National Park, Canada
Murren, Switzerland
Spiez, Switzerland
Mer de Glace, France
Cowley Falls, Kansas
Moraine Park, Colorado
Bear Lake, Colorado
Geary Lake Falls, Kansas
Kalalau Overlook, Kauai
Napali Coast, Kauai
Hanalei Valley, Kauai
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
Boulder Brook, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Posted under: Canada, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, News & Updates, Switzerland

13 Images From 2013!

Posted on January 8, 2014 by Mickey

2013 was an interesting year for my photography and contrasted greatly with 2012. In 2012, I traveled more than I have ever traveled in a single year. Two massive road trips that covered a majority of the entire US and Canada west coast combined for 7,000 plus miles of stunning scenery dominated my portfolio in 2012.. For 2013, outside of a short trip to Colorado for fall colors, my entire year is made up with local Kansas shots. In one year, I went from single to married, and it was absolutely a great year! However, just because my life changed dramatically, I don’t feel as though my photography suffered. It just took a different and unique direction. I focused more on the local scene, spending a lot of time at the Keeper of the Plains and out on the open skies of the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas! Below is a collection of 13 of my best images from 2013!


 

Star Trails Over Teter Rock

13. Star Trails Over Teter Rock

Teter Rock, Kansas, USA – February

This image stands out to me mostly because I tried something a little different with my star trails. When I shot the star trails in this image, I took 30 second exposures for 30 minutes to an hour. Usually when I use this technique, I stack them into one image to create this effect. The other method is to just shoot a long bulb shot for 30 minutes or more. In this particular image I used the stacking method. However, I tried something new by increasing the exposure on the last shot. It created a sort of brighter “tail” to each star trail. I’ll be using this technique and more to try to make my night shots stand out as more unique in the coming year.


 

Geary State Fishing Lake Waterfall

12. Geary State Fishing Lake Waterfall

Geary State Fishing Lake, Kansas – June

This was shot during a short trip into the Flint Hills for my now-wife’s birthday. We wanted to find this waterfall as I had heard it was one of the largest in Kansas. It was before the flooding later in the summer, but still had some good spring melt runoff going on. It stands out to me as the first Kansas waterfall in an adventure I’ve started to undertake to find them all!


 

Kansas Gold

11. Kansas Gold

Wichita, Kansas – June

I shot this shortly before harvest near Wichita. The wheat fields swaying in the wind looked like swirls of gold against a beautiful Kansas sky. Hence the title Kansas Gold.


 

A Hint of Autumn

10. A Hint of Autumn

Maroon Bells, Colorado – September

This one is a little different for me. I usually get drawn in by grand landscape scenes, but lately I’ve been trying my hand at more intimate scenes like the one here. This was one of my favorites from the September fall colors trip out to Colorado. I was really happy with the contrast between the snow covered pine’s and the few stands of aspens spread out to give it a splash of warm color.


 

Chisholm Creek Fall Colors

9. Chisolm Creek Fall Colors

Wichita, Kansas, USA – October

This autumn there was a good 2-3 day period of lots of rain. I had moved to a new place on the northeast side of Wichita, and decided to check out the Chisholm Creek Park trail system to find a few good locations to shoot. I managed to find this little waterfall (shortly after dropping my lens cap in the same creek and slipping camera first into the mud). With the water pouring heavily over the falls, I shot what I feel is one of the best autumn shots I’ve managed in Kansas.


 

Summer Sunset at the Keeper of the Plains

8. Summer Sunset at the Keeper of the Plains

Wichita, Kansas – July

After years of drought an a nearly empty Arkansas River in downtown Wichita, the area was graced by lots of flooding, causing the River to swell to heights not seen for a few years. It made for some more interesting shots than a foreground of grass where there should be water. I shot this when the river was at about it’s normal height, with the fire pits going and a beautiful sunset in the background.


 

Keeper of the Plains Lightning

7. Keeper of the Plains Lightning

Wichita, Kansas, USA – July

Every year, I manage to get at least one crazy lightning shot down at the Keeper of the Plains. This year was no exception, and produced the shot above. Usually the place clears out when the storms get closer, but there was a surprisingly large amount of people enjoying the light show with us. The end result is what you see above.


 

Lower Chase Lake Falls

6. Lower Chase Lake Falls

Chase State Fishing Lake, Kansas – June

I took this shot back in June on a birthday day trip with my now wife. This was the best shot from that particular trip. While the waterfall wasn’t flowing heavily, it still made for a beautiful scene. It’s still probably my favorite waterfall to shoot in the state, because I always seem to get a good shot there. I’m sure I’ll be back in the spring this year, or even in the winter if a good rainstorm hits.


 

The Heartland of America

5. The Heartland of America

Wichita, Kansas, USA – June

One complaint I’ve had for years about my Kansas galleries is the lack of wheat and sunflower fields. While I’ve yet to get a few sunflower field shots, I did manage to capture a few good shots of the beautiful wheat fields that Kansas farms are known for! The sky was brilliant the night I shot this, with beautiful cloud formations to work with and the wind rustling the amber waves of grain gave some of the images from that day a swirl of gold for the foreground.


 

Silent Night Over East Beckwith Mountain

4. Silent Night Over East Beckwith Mountain

Lost Lake Slough, Kebler Pass Area, Colorado, USA – September

This one took a lot of time to get right. Every time I go to Colorado, I plan to take a few night shots. Whether it’s because of time constraints, weather or some other reason, I never seem to get one. This time I was bound and determined to shoot a good Milky Way shot. This particular one was fun, as it was a new place. I had heard that the Kebler Pass area west of Crested Butte was beautiful in the autumn, but didn’t realize how beautiful! Camped at Lost Lake Slough, the area is definitely one of the more remote campgrounds in the state. Beautiful aspen colors, tons of hiking trails and gorgeous scenery dominate the area. A few hours after I shot this, clouds rolled in and we woke up to a snow covered tent the next morning. But what a beautiful night of stars it was!


 

Autumn at Chase Lake Falls

3. Autumn at Chase Lake Falls

Chase State Fishing Lake, Chase County, Kansas, USA

This image was shot by complete accident. I had been trying to find time to shoot a good autumn scene at one of the many waterfalls I had found over the summer. I missed shooting with the leaves still up in the trees, but made it over to the falls at Chase State Fishing Lake as the leaves scattered the ground and pool of water below the lower waterfall. The early morning sun kept peeking out from the clouds just enough to give some interesting side light to the scene. To say I had planned this shot would be a lie, as this is one of those photos that I love but was taken by sheer luck!

Sunset at Moraine Lake

2. Autumn and Winter Collide at the Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado – September

This photo moved up the ranks of my top photos pretty quick. The day I spent traveling around the mountains near Aspen during a brief collision of autumn and winter was pretty spectacular! Beautiful autumn colors mixed with wintery scenes to create the scene above. One of the nice things about shooting on the night this was taken was the complete lack of photographers. I’ve been there on cool autumn mornings with 200 other photographers lining the lake trying to capture the same sunrise image of the Bells. I usually become disappointed in knowing I’m getting the same shot as everyone, and walk around the lake to the creek beyond. On this evening, however, there were only two of us braving the cold for a good shot of the Bells as they would appear, disappear and reappear every few minutes from the clouds that were, at times, dropping good amounts of snow on the already beautiful scene. Shortly before I shot this scene, a moose wandered out of the woods to the north of the lake, followed by 4-5 photographers all trying to get a good shot of him. Even more comical, after I finished shooting this scene, the moose wandered back out of the trees on the other side of the lake stalking those same photographers who had gotten way too close.


 

Delano District Sunset

1. Delano District Sunset

Wichita, Kansas – January

There is no way that this image wasn’t going to make first place! I could have traveled as much as I did in 2012 and probably not found a sunset as stunning as this one was back in January. This was shot on a chilly Friday evening in January only one year ago at the Delano clocktower. Besides the beauty of the sunrise, there are two things that I remember standing out to this photograph. First, the image was used as the cover of the 2013 Delano Visitors Guide, available at businesses throughout the Delano area of Wichita. Second, I remember my now-wife going nuts for this photo when I first posted it. (we had traded Facebook comments about both the sunrise and sunset that day. It was only a few shorts weeks later that I took her to a local lake to teach her star trails. This photo will always be special to me for that reason!


I also want to share one photo that I don’t have for sale, but would for sure be on this list if it was in my portfolio. Back in late July, I proposed to my then girlfriend and now wife (married for all of 12 days now!). Being a landscape photographer, I had to get the ultimate picture of my proposal. I had it all ready to go. Teter Rock was a special place for us, as we hung out for one of the first times out there on the prairie. I had taken a few night shots out there before, and knew exactly what I wanted for my proposal. A picture of the proposal with all the beautiful stars in the background. Full the full story of the proposal, just click the picture. You can read all about how I used a remote to capture the scene below.

Flint Hills Proposal

 

As you can see, this was a pretty active year of local photography. 2014 is already shaping up to be a great year as well! I’ve already made it to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado to start the year off with some winter fun! For all who have asked me for years to add some tropical ocean shots to my portfolio, it looks like this will be the year to do it! I will also have a major art show this summer at a good location here in Wichita that I will announce at some point soon! Not to mention, plans for a complete revamp of my website and blog! So keep checking back in 2014 to see what kind of amazing stuff I have in store! And feel free to comment here and on Facebook to let me know what kinds of photography you’d like to see!

Here’s a few honorable mentions:
Lined up for the Show
Chase Lake Falls of Gold
Waterfalls of Cowley State Fishing Lake
Keeper of the Clouds
Lights of Delano District
Keeper of the Fog
Blizzard of Oz
Keeper of the Plains Winter Landscape
Star Trails Over Teter Rock

Posted under: News & Updates

Flint Hills Proposal

Posted on July 30, 2013 by Mickey

Last Friday I proposed to my girlfriend! While this blog has mostly been used to update you with new photography or trip reports, I thought it would be nice to show a bit of the personal side and give you the story of our proposal and engagement! It’s also worth posting the photograph of our engagement, as I had to do a little creative planning to get the photograph I wanted of our proposal moment. Teter Rock has been one of my favorite places to photograph here in Kansas, as I have been shooting there for over a year now. I really wanted a beautiful nighttime proposal scene under a sky full of stars. I shot the proposal with a remote trigger, and combined three exposures. One for the actual proposal/foreground elements, one for the candle-lit ground, and one for the sky. The photo below is the final product:

Flint Hills Proposal
Flint Hills Proposal
Photograph of my proposal to my girlfriend under the Milky Way and stars at Teter Rock on the Flint Hills of Kansas!

Now, what would a proposal picture be without a story to follow? This is the story of our engagement as I posted on Facebook last night:

“On Friday I proposed to my girlfriend and she said yes! 🙂 We wanted to share the story of the proposal, as many have asked us about it as we have been telling people about our engagement. As most of you know, I’m a photographer, and I had to make sure to get a good photo of our proposal, so I had my remote trigger ready for this event! I proposed at Teter Rock out on the Flint Hills near Cassoday, Kansas. This spot was memorable for us. It was only the second time hanging out when we first visited Teter Rock, and we spent at least 6 hours shooting photos, talking and becoming friends! She very quickly became my best friend, and on the night of July 26th, 2013 we became officially engaged!

Over the years, I had decided that when I found the right one, I wanted to propose in Italy at a place called Via dell’Amore in Cinque Terre on the Mediterranean Sea. Having only dated for a shorter period of time (because when you know, you just know!), a Europe trip would be difficult on such short notice. So as I was thinking of something special to come up with for a proposal idea, I remembered the story of the Via dell’Amore. Cinque Terre is a rugged area on the Mediterranean Sea that consists of five beautiful villages. Between two villages is the Via del’Amore (the Pathway of Love) where in the past, the guys and girls of these two villages would get together to propose or marry. Up until this trail was made, contact outside the villages was rare because of their remoteness and ruggedness of the region. One of the traditions of the Via dell’Amore is the “Love locks”. A couple will take a padlock and lock it together, then throw the key off the cliff into the ocean, meant to symbolize the locking of their love together. So I bought a vintage looking padlock and had it engraved with our initials. One day soon, we will take it to Italy and lock at Cinque Terre, as traveling is something we both want to do a lot of!

So last Friday, the weather was showing clear skies and wonderful temperatures for the middle of summer. For those not used to Kansas in the country, we have some of the most beautiful sunsets and starry night skies around! The idea of proposing under the stars has always been romantic to me. So I picked her up and we grabbed some dinner, along with candles, blankets and such for what she thought was a date night under the stars to watch a meteor shower. When we got to Teter Rock, the last light of the sunset had just faded and the stars were bright and shining! I knew the moon was supposed to come up around 11, which would illuminate the scene, but also kill the stars. So I set the camera up to shoot a scene with the Milky Way in the background that I would layer onto the proposal scene to create the photo this story is attached to. I snapped a few exposures, all the while she’s asking me to come eat with her instead of messing with my camera. She didn’t quite realize I was getting it ready to photograph her proposal. 🙂 So after getting the camera ready, I came to sit and eat with her. She was a little cold so we got her wrapped up in the blanket and finished off our food. At this point, a few coyotes decided to howl in the distance (if I’m honest, they were probably closer than I’ve ever heard them out there). While I know the coyotes out there are more afraid of us than we are of them, that didn’t help her desire to hightail it to the car and camp out to watch the stars in the comfort of safety. I wasn’t sure what to do at this point. I knew I needed to propose, but I didn’t want to do it while she was freaking out. I considered waiting for another time, but realized it might be a while before I got her out here again. After sitting in the car warming up a bit (and honking the horn and blaring the radio to scare off the coyotes) I talked her into taking the photo. She had calmed down and seemed fine at this point, so I went back out to get the camera settings changed for the new moonlit sky. I had her come out to model the settings, with her totally expecting to get a nice photo of us together. The settings were right. She was happy and not freaking out about coyotes. It was time! The moment had arrived! I walked over to our little romantic candlelit picnic area, and we took a photo together. After taking the photo, I told her “Oh, I want to get one more photo”. She looked at me, and at this point, I dropped to one knee and asked her to be my wife. I’ve never seen so much happiness before, as she was literally shaking and grinning from ear to ear. She said YES!

After we enjoyed the moment for a few minutes, I gave her the lock and explained the story. She already knew of Cinque Terre and the Via dell’Amore as I had told her I wanted to visit it someday. We left our special place in the Flint Hills with the promise to “love lock” the lock in Italy someday and throw the key off the cliffs into the sea below.”

That’s the story of our proposal and engagement! It was great to do it under a sky full of stars out at Teter Rock. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Kansas!

Posted under: Kansas