Monday, February 08, 2010
Blue Sky Day
I had the pleasure a couple weeks ago of taking a drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon just east of Salt Lake City to shoot some photos for the good ol' Forest Service. I was asked to shoot something with blue sky and snow to replace the drab nearly black & white banner on Recreation.gov. When I woke up that morning, it was still dark but I could tell the sky was crystal clear. I waited impatiently for the sun to come up and sure enough, blue, blue, blue. I loaded my gear into the car, stopped for fresh batteries for my DSLR and and hit the road.
Winter in Utah is both beautiful and horrible. Down in the valley, we suffer from "the inversion", or a thick, choking, nasty, depressing layer of smog and freezing air that gets trapped under a layer of warm air. The inversion happens every winter, but this year seems worse. (I might say that every year.) Even on sunny days, if there's a high pressure system sitting on top of us, the smog won't burn off. This year we have not had our fair share of storms, so there's been a lot of horrible air days, sore-throat-inducing days, sad, "I just want to stay at home in bed" days.
A couple days before I went up the canyon, we had a blessed storm. It didn't drop much in the way of snow, but it did blow the inversion out, so that meant the air in the valleys was much healthier than it had been. All that aside, even on the worst days down in the valleys, the air way up above in the canyons is always crystal clear and you can actually see the blanket of gunk down below, and then watch as it envelopes your car as you descend. It's gross. Anyway, back to my story. The air was clear-ish with a blue sky at my house, which meant that it would be impossibly blue and crisp and gorgeous up the canyon, and indeed it was.
I took a walk along the side road toward Jordan Pines campground and reluctantly turned back at the Donut Falls trailhead. The road was closed, gated, and snow-packed, and there wasn't a soul around. I could hear snow falling from branches, and off in the distance, blasts from avalanche guns at Solitude and Brighton ski resorts reverberated off the surrounding peaks. It was so peaceful and beautiful, and I had no trouble finding "something with blue sky and snow".
I had such a grand time tromping around in the snow and breathing fresh air. I shot about 150 digital photos, one with my iPhone, and a handful of quick Polaroids. Once I got home, I prepped some photos and sent them off to the Forest Service, and shortly thereafter, my wonderful blue sky day got even better when I was told that indeed one of my images would become the official winter banner on Recreation.gov. I was pretty excited. The image above is a screen shot of the homepage, decorated with my handiwork right on top. The images below are my Polaroid triptych, the lonely iPhone image, and the full-size image of the cropped banner.