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The Valley, The people.

eating dust
Sand storm in Monument Valley

Monument Valley. Probably one of the most photographically familiar places in the west thanks to so many movies being made there. I get to go there a couple of times a year and the place never grows boring. There are so many new angles on familiar scenes to explore I doubt if I will ever do everything there I would like to.

The valley is a tough land, but beautiful. A place rich in history but poor in economic value for its residents. But most of the people are friendly and helpful. This young Navajo Cowboy was one of the men we hired to move some of his horses in good locations to photograph. After the sand storm subsided I ask, “Ok what is the best way for you to get us some photos of your horses?” He replied with a smile, “The best way for me is how ever you would like” .

I am going to hire him again.

Green River Milky Way

Milky Way over green river
Milky Way over green river


There are many places to shoot the Milky Way and do nightscape photography. Yellowstone/Grand Teton, CanyonLands/Arches and the desert all come to mind but actually the places are only limited by your imagination.  This is one we shot during my Autumn Canyonlands/Arches workshop.

Yellowstone Sunset

Sunset Geyser
White Dome geyser

White Dome Geyser at sunset,

As the roads in Yellowstone and Grand Teton begin to open the photography opportunities increase rapidly. A low snow year like this on should be especially productive this spring.
I do have a couple of openings on my Spring trip due to a cancellation so if your interested in going I am offering a discount to those of you who get my blog or you may be interested in a private day trip. Just drop me a note at

Spanish Beach Boy

Spanish Stallion
Spanish Stallion


We had a chance to visit a Spanish PRE horse (Andalusian) ranch south of San Diego this past week while scouting a future workshop. These horses are imported directly from Spain. PRE’s were originally used for classical dressage, driving, bullfighting, and as stock horses.
To say the least there were some pretty nice stallions there that will look great running and playing on the beach. I think this was my favorite Beach Boy from the trip.

Blood Moon over Wickenburg Arizona

Total Lunar Eclipse Blood Moon over Wickenburg Arizona
So what is a Blood Moon?
During the eclipse the sunlight striking the moon turns red from passing through the earths atmosphere just like a sunset. Simple enough,for me anyway.

It was fun to be out shooting the moon except for getting up at 3AM. Thankfully, Mickey D’s was open for coffee and the traffic was light. So fortified with caffeine I stood in the middle of main street to make this photo. Needless to say Wickengburg’s main street (or any street) is not exactly busy at 4:45 AM.

As soon as I made this shot I raced into the desert to line the moon up with a couple of pre scouted Saguaro Cactus. When I arrived clouds were covering most of the moon but I did get a shot and a bit of practice for the next Blood Moon which some think with be the grand finality. It should make a hell of a shot.

And the Lady danced.

Northern Lights looking south from near the Brooks Range Alaska

It had been a 22 hour day that brought us to this viewpoint. The conditions were harsh and we were tried. It would have been easy to stay in the cabin after our twilight arrival and a hot meal, but the call of Aurora pushed us on into the sub zero night, on to a location I had discovered during last years scouting trip.

When we arrived there was a ring around the moon and the lights were dim but we knew they could become stronger at any time. The cold was just bearable as the night changed into morning hours. We moved from location to location being teased by the undulations of the glowing sky. We resisted the lure of the warm cabin and a soft bed.

Finally when we were nearly exhausted and half delirious from the cold and lack of sleep Aurora gave us a final glorious burst of dramatic light.
After this image we drove to the cabin with a mostly dark sky where we rested more than we needed. It was cloudy the next four days.

Still we were happy at the end of the week because we had captured a special dance of lady Aurora.

Wildflower preview

Beautiful Landscapes by Jess Lee Photography
Beautiful Landscapes by Jess Lee Photography

It looks like we will be seeing scenes like this in about a month here in Arizona. It has been a few years since we have had a great bloom but the autumn and winter rains have been good and the desert is green in many places and ready to bloom. If you want to join us and find some great locations and get training on improving your landscape photography vision I have 2 openings, due to a cancellation, on this trip.

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