Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Stay Focused

“Things don't go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.” 
― Charles JonesLife Is Tremendous


…and what a year it was! 2013

A pivotal year in my exploration of landscape photography.
The ongoing desire to be more proficient technically at a very exciting time within the photographic arts as technology is changing by the day, minutes…seconds.

My Photo Of The Year 2013

This is my favorite shot for 2013. 

Havasupai in Autumn

Last year I picked my favorite photo of the entire year and I thought I'd give it a go this year also. 

To be honest I don't put a lot of thought into the process but rather go with a completely visceral response and then work my way back and see if I can explain it intellectually.  I find this image to be a bit complex and perhaps why I'm drawn to it.  It also is rich in emotion for me. The minute I shot it, I knew it was my favorite.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Upper Navajo Falls in Havasupai, Arizona. 

Earlier this month I made my way into the canyon to witness the seasonal change of colors in the trees. What I really fell in love with was the lesser photographed Navajo Falls area. The water has constant 70 degree-ish temperature and with the outside temps in Autumn being in the low 30's in the morning this whole area was shrouded with an ethereal mist.  As the morning sun starts to illuminate the canyon walls, the scene was spectacular. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Wish


Merry Christmas to all. 

As this year comes to an end and I reflect on all the days done by, 
I have a wish.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Seasons Change

"The winds that blow they go away
And seasons change"


On this first day of Winter, 
It amazes me how effortlessly things change sometimes.  You start down the same path, the one you've always taken and suddenly nothing looks familiar.  On false step, one uttered word out of context,  and you end up with new friends or a bad reputation or a new career or the loss of someone you loved.  Never thought much about it but in hindsight perhaps I've missed something.  Maybe all these stories exist at the same time, like each moment we live has thousands of other moments layered underneath it waiting for their queue or the wrong word to be uttered or a new love to be found. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

There Is A Place



“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it's yours.”  
Ayn Rand

Photography, for me, is a quest to communicate on a very personal and emotional level.  
To fill in the spaces and voids that words can not. 
A visual attempt to speak directly from the heart so the image
is perceived as a feeling. 

In this journey, there are times when your hard work, 
dark hours and moments of discomfort lead you to a place.  
A place where the hour is right and the light is honest 
and the color comes from some higher power 
and you realize that your real life is in fact the adventure you always dreamed of.  
There is no other feeling more whole and validating than living in a dream that you created. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


"None of that will matter, if you let me add a chapter." 

Autumn Trails

"I've been thinking about you constantly since I left, wondering why the journey I'm on seemed to have led through you. I know my journey's not over yet, and that life is a winding path, but I can only hope it somehow circles back to the place I belong. That's how I think of it now. I belong with you"
(Nights in Rodanthe)

Sunday, December 15, 2013


You're the whispering and the sighing Of my tires in the rain
You're the hidden cost and the thing that's lost, 
In everything I do
I'll never stop looking for you, 
In the sunlight and the shadows
And the faces on the avenue, 
That's the way love is 
~ Sky Blue and Black. Jackson Browne

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Mooney Falls, Havasupai

“I was, 
but then I realized that I was holding on to something that didn't exist anymore. 
That the person I missed didn't exist anymore. 
People change. 
The things we like and dislike change. 
And we can wish they couldn't all day long but that never works.” 
 Fixing Delilah

Love Notes

I came into work that day with a bit of a chip on my shoulder, my mother had forgotten my birthday. The only girl in a sea full of boys how hard could it have been to remember. The only one who shared her love of perfume and Bobbi Brown, yet no card, no call.   I was standing in our lab talking to Dr. Quinn, when I heard that one of my brothers from California was on the phone for me.  I was the only family member who lived outside of California. I heard my mother had collapsed that morning, 11 days post knee replacement surgery but an otherwise healthy woman.  

Phone calls later, muffled conversations, time that stood still and surreal. I found myself staring out the window of an airplane that evening watching the Phoenix lights trying to come to grips that my mom had unexpectedly died. My birthday meant nothing now and for all the years that past remained non-celebratory.  I also stopped celebrating Thanksgiving and of course Christmas.  This year, last month, it's been 10 years. 

 I adored her as a child, this I remember.  She was beautiful and strong.  She was funny and resilient.  She wasn't perfect and we didn't always have a perfect life but she loved me and I knew it.  I am everything I am, everything that is good because my mother valued and validated my life. She was my best friend and she left me too soon. It's hard for me to think of all that she's missed these past 10 years. 

Ten years later, I still cry.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Love doesn't need a reason. 
It speaks from the irrational wisdom of the heart. 
Deepak Chopra

Friday, December 06, 2013

Dreams That Whisper


"She still speaks to the little girl who wanted to be an artist, a doctor, a poet, a wing-walker. She listens when the little girl talks, when she paints pictures of the clouds, when she draws something huge in sidewalk chalk.  She makes her every day a place for old dreams and new dreams, dreams that tower and dreams that whisper." 
M.H. Clark, I Am Her  

Lowepro Rover-Pro 45L AW Backpack Review


I had the opportunity this year to offer some personal feedback to Lowepro on the Flipside 400 AW backpack. I took the backpack on several grueling hikes, including Angel's Landing and the Narrows in Zion National Park. To this day, this bag still remains my favorite. 

I told Lowepro that I receive a lot of email regarding my equipment.  Often from other female photographers or hikers who almost always share the same concerns I do about gear, the weight. 

Trekking for miles on sometimes rugged terrain or trails at high elevations for hours on end, weight and stability are a concern for a smaller female frame.  I also want to carry as much of my photography gear with me but still need room for many other essentials such as clothing layers, food, water and first aid and accessories. 

My Flipside 400 AW is a perfect solution for all the above mentioned on a long day hike. However, occasionally while photographing I'll be out for days in the landscape and may want to camp overnight or longer.  I needed a combination camera backpack and multi-day backpack similar to my Gregory backpack system with the same suspension and load-bearing sensitivities. I need to be able to carry all my gear safely and securely in the same backpack as my tent and other camping  supplies. 

Lowepro has come up with a brilliant solution.  The Rover Pro 45L AW. 

The Rover Pro 45L AW's fully adjustable suspension system distributes weight well and I'm able to adjust it perfectly to my smaller frame. They've also added a breathable trampoline style mesh backing  that keeps the back well ventilated.  Fully loaded with camera gear, tripod, tent and camping supplies for 3 days the pack is comfortable and I remained sure-footed and happy on the trail. 


Two modular padded and removable camera cases include :  adjustable padded dividers, removable accessory pouch, interior zippered pockets, outer mesh pockets, webbing grab handles.  I was able to easily fit my Canon 5D Mark II, 70-200mm lens, 16-35mm lens, 24-105mm lens, Singh-Ray filters, Lee filters and holder system, batteries, CF cards, cleaning kit and accessories comfortably and safely in the modular units.  I was pleasantly surprised at how many zippered and meshed compartments were available in the camera storage area. I didn't have to leave anything behind. 

The modular camera units will take up a large part of the bag capacity but I was able to still carry several sets of clothing (cold weather layers) food for 3 days, Jet stove, fuel and accessories. The bag has a top-loading design just like my conventional backpack but has front access panel as well. 

The side of the pack has a very unique and secure tripod holder.  For me, this is an area that can drive me nuts. If I feel my tripod moving or swinging at all when I'm hiking, I'll obsess over it.  With this system, it doesn't dare move.  The legs slide securely in two fixed straps and then a left and right nylon panel covers up the tripod legs and is then buckled and cinched in snuggly. 
Love it. 


The other side of the bag has a zippered hydration system for a 2 liter bag.

The over all look of the bag is rather stylish. It's nicely designed, has numerous pockets and zippered storage areas and doesn't scream "Look I'm carrying several thousands of dollars worth of camera gear inside" 

Attached top lid provides a zippered pocket to keep essentials handy; built-in key clip included for those who need to remember exactly where their keys are. 

Zippered storage areas in the waist belt, enough to carry easily accessible snacks, gps, cell phone and chap-stick. 

The bottom of the Rover Pro holds its 3-in-1 AW (All Weather) cover which doubles as a photographic reflector, and diffuser with adjustable ring. It fits snuggly over the backpack like a shower cap.


Specs: 
Removable Camera Compartment Interior: 
14.5 x 15.5 x 31.5 cm (5.71 x 6.10 x 12.40 in)
External Dimensions: 
33.7 x 29.2 x 57.2 cm (13.27 x 11.50 x 22.52 in)
Fits:
  • Pro DSLR with grip, with attached 24-70mm lens
  • 3-4 extra lenses or flashes
  • Tripod or monopod
  • 2 liter hydration reservoir
  • Up to a 15" laptop
  • Sleeping pad, small tent, ice axe/trekking poles, and other personal items
  • Weighs just barely 6 lbs.



A few things about the bag I would change. The hip belt straps are excessively long and hang down to my feet (well, ok knees) when the belt is cinched tight. I'd also like the hip belt clips to be wider by at least another inch to feel a bit more secure. 


If you’re a backpacking, long trekking, rock climbing, mountain exploring outdoor photographer, and need enough room for both camera gear and technical/overnight gear, this could be just the pack that you’re looking for. 
I highly recommend this bag. 
















Visit Lowepro's website and find the bag that work
best for your shooting style. 


Valerie Millett, professional landscape photographer works as a freelance writer and photographer for the Arizona Republic. 



Works published in Outdoor Photographer Magazine and Arizona Highways Magazine. 




Wednesday, December 04, 2013

"She needs no map to discover where she is going, 
or how to get there. 
Her map is written on her heart
its roads and rivers are her dreams, her strength, her confidence. 
The way is not always easy,
but when she takes a moment to notice the scenery, 
she sees that it is always beautiful." 

From The Book: I Am Her

Navajo Mist


The nearly constant 70 degree water temps collide with the very cold low 20's morning air around Upper Navajo Falls.  The mist could be seen just outside of camp and as it lifted above the autumn colored trees it was beautiful. 

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

I Live To Leave


I live to leave. Every part of a new adventure I get excited about. The planning, the anticipation, packing, early hours on the road. Seeing the sunrise on a landscape never seen before. Schlepping my gear around exploring streams, creeks, waterfalls, leaves, light and color.