No Surprise Here: Instagrammers Love the Grand Canyon

Ken Converse | Grand Canyon

Here's some more Grand Canyon news for you: The Seventh Natural Wonder was the second-most-popular park on Instagram in 2015, according to Instagram and Outside magazine.

Grand Canyon National Park trailed only Yosemite National Park in California. Rounding out the top five were Zion National Park (Utah), Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado) and Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming/Montana/Idaho) among Instagrammers.

It's hardly surprising, given that the Canyon offers infinite photo opportunities. Among those we've covered in Arizona Highways: the Grandview Loop scenic drive, the North Kaibab Trail and Grand Canyon Lodge.

Other parks in the region that made the list include California's Joshua Tree (No. 6) and Utah's Arches (No. 7) and Bryce Canyon (No. 9). There's also Alaska's Denali (No. 17), which our former intern, Kayla Frost, knows a thing or two about.

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Photography Project for At-Risk Kids Returns for 2016

Participants in a previous Kids in Focus project check out photos with professional photographer Patrick Breen. | Jill Richards

A nonprofit organization's project that introduces at-risk kids in the Phoenix area to photography is back for its 2016 iteration.

Kids in Focus is the brainchild of Karen Shell, a frequent contributor to Arizona Highways. During an intensive nine-week session, 26 students from Children First Academy in Phoenix take weekly field trips to photo shoots and receive mentorship from 12 professional photographers. The project aims to teach photography and problem-solving skills that the students can use in other environments.

The program is underway now, and it culminates with a public exhibition of the students' photos. That exhibition is set to open Friday, March 4 (First Friday), with a reception at Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix. The event runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and features food and music.

For more information, visit

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From Pulitzers to Landscapes: An Interview With Jack Dykinga

Courtesy of Jack Dykinga

Friday Fotos, our weekly event on our Facebook page, is off again this week. (We know, we know. We're slackers. It'll be back next week.) In its place, though, we bring you this interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Jack Dykinga, a longtime Arizona Highways contributor.

Fellow contributors John Sherman and Dawn Kish produced the video and the accompanying blog post for the Photography Life website. You can read the blog post here and watch the video below. In it, Dykinga talks about his influences, how he got his start and much more. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

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National Park Service Seeking ... the Next Ansel Adams?

Ansel Adams with a large-format camera. | Courtesy of National Park Service

Last week, an interesting job listing on USAJOBS, a website that lists job openings in the federal government, made the rounds on social media. The National Park Service, it turns out, is seeking a photographer to be based in Washington, D.C.

What's odd about the position, which pays up to $99,000 a year, is the type of photography: "large format" — in other words, the old-timey 4x5 and 6x7 view cameras that once were the industry standard. The photographer, the listing says, will be in charge of creating "large-format photographic documentation to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the HABS/HAER/HALS permanent collection at the Library of Congress," among other duties.

Large-format photography isn't completely a thing of the past, but hand-held cameras and, later, digital photography have pushed it to the margins. Still, some of history's greatest photographers were masters of large format.

One of them, of course, was Ansel Adams, a longtime Arizona Highways contributor who also completed many assignments from the Park Service. Some of those photos are collected in Ansel Adams: The National Park Service Photographs, which you can find on Amazon.

If you're a large-format buff and are thinking of applying, you'd better hurry: The application window closes tomorrow.

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Winners Announced in Game and Fish Wildlife Photo Contest

The cover of the 2016 Arizona Wildlife Views calendar. | Rhonda Spencer

Rhonda Spencer's photo of two lowland leopard frogs has taken the top prize in an Arizona Game and Fish Department wildlife photography contest co-sponsored by Arizona Highways.

Spencer's shot, along with those of 12 other contest winners, will be featured in a full-size wildlife calendar included in the November/December 2015 issue of Arizona Wildlife Views, a Game and Fish publication. The winning photos will also be featured in Arizona Highways next year.

Arizona Highways Photo Editor Jeff Kida, a judge in the contest, had this to say about Spencer's shot: "At first glance, the composition appears clean and simple: a frog and its refection, with a background that is mostly out of focus. Once you take a closer look, though, the blurred background turns out to be another frog, and it's facing the opposite direction. That yin-yang makes this much more fun and involving."

Besides the first-place winner, the other honorees were:

  • Ken Bruce, Glendale: Anna’s hummingbird
  • Peggy Coleman, Glendale: Round-tailed ground squirrel
  • Dan W. Conway, Dewey: White-crowned sparrow
  • Shane Farmer, Mesa: White-nosed coati
  • Louis G. Hoeniger, Phoenix: yellow-eyed junco
  • Marti Huzarski, Chino Valley: Pronghorn
  • Maria Jeffs, Hildale: Mule deer
  • Ruth Jolly, Scottsdale: Canada geese
  • Kiril Kirkov, Flagstaff: California condor
  • Leslie Elkin Leathers, Tucson: Common mergansers
  • Robert Rinsem, Chandler: White-faced ibis
  • Tam Ryan, Phoenix: Hooded orioles

To receive the calendar, subscribe to Arizona Wildlife Views by December 31. Until then, one-year subscriptions (six issues) are being offered for just $7, a discount from the regular price of $8.50. You can also buy the calendar for $3 at all Game and Fish offices starting in mid-November.

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Wildlife Photography Exhibit Coming to Phoenix Next Month

Melissa Groo's photo of a great egret, one of the winning images from the National Audubon Photography Awards.

A traveling exhibit showcasing the nine winning images from a national photography contest is coming to Phoenix in November.

The National Audubon Photography Awards exhibit will appear at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center (3131 S. Central Avenue) from November 1-21. The annual contest focuses on birds, and this year's winners include photos of hummingbirds, macaws, ducks and birds of prey, Audubon Arizona said in a news release.

The nine winners were chosen from more than 9,000 entries, the organization said.

In addition, the exhibit will be featured at the center's monthly happy-hour event, "Birds 'n' Beer." That event, on Thursday, Nov. 19, will include a presentation by wildlife photographer and conservationist Nathaniel Smalley. Beer from Tempe's Four Peaks Brewing Co. will be served.

Admission to the traveling exhibit is free. For more information, visit or call 602-468-6470.

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Photographer to Display Route 66 Photos at October Show

Dawn Kish displays her portfolio from our May 2015 issue. | Courtesy of Dawn Kish

Friend of the magazine Dawn Kish, a frequent photographic contributor to Arizona Highways, will be showcasing her work that was featured in our May 2015 issue at a show next month in Flagstaff.

Kish's portfolio in the May issue, Feelin' Groovy, was composed of shots Kish made along Historic Route 66, in keeping with that issue's theme. The twist: Kish made the photos using her iPhone and an app called Hipstamatic, giving a "vintage" look to her photos of the Mother Road.

The show is Friday, Oct. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Criollo Latin Kitchen, a Flagstaff restaurant featured in our October issue, which is on newsstands now.

To learn more about Kish, visit her website or follow her on Facebook.

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Deadline Extended for Special State Fair Photography Contests

Chris Frailey | Lost Dutchman State Park

The Arizona State Fair is extending, until September 24 at 10:59 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, its deadline for entries into its special photography contests sponsored by Arizona Highways, Arizona State Parks and (Click each link for the details of each contest.)

Marilou Peavley, who runs the contest (and also works in the gift shop at Arizona Highways World Headquarters), says participation in these contests has been light so far, and she's hoping the extension will help garner more entries.

The winner of the Arizona Highways contest

For rules and entry forms for all the contests, click here and then click on the "Contests" tab. Please note that only the deadlines for these three contests have been extended; the other contests have closed. If you have any questions, you can email Marilou at [email protected] or call 602-257-7142.

Good luck!

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Enter the Arizona State Fair's Photography Contest by September 9

The Arizona State Fair is looking for submissions for its annual photography contest, which is sponsored by Arizona Highways. You have until September 9 to enter, and there are dozens of categories from which to choose. (UPDATE: A previous version of this post said September 4 was the deadline; it's since been extended due to complications from weather. Click here for more info.)

The contest has separate divisions for amateur and experienced photographers. For each, there's a general category for black-and-white photos. For color photos, there are categories for people, landscape, animals, plants, design, panoramic and experimental photos. There's also a new category this year: cellphone photos, which can be either color or black and white.

The fair is accepting only online entries. Click here for a PDF that explains the whole process. When you're ready, click here to submit your artwork. If your photo is accepted, you'll have to prepare a hard copy to be displayed for judging during the fair.

We know our readers are fantastic photographers, so we hope you'll participate. Best of luck in the contest!

Photo courtesy of Arizona State Fair

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Memorial Planned for Longtime Arizona Photographer Jack Stuler

Jack Stuler, a prolific photographer whose work was exhibited in galleries across the U.S. during his six-decade career, died March 22 at his home in Payson. He was 82.

Stuler's family and friends are planning to honor his legacy with a memorial exhibition and celebration this Saturday, April 11, at Arizona State University's Northlight Gallery in Tempe. The event starts at 5 p.m.

According to a website recently set up in his memory, Stuler was a Pennsylvania native. He studied at Phoenix College and at Arizona State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1960 and later became a professor.

Stuler's photos — usually close-up ("macro") shots — were exhibited in, among other places, the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y., and the Phoenix Art Museum. He published a book of his photos, In the Nature of Things, in 1990.

A 2002 Phoenix New Times story about a Stuler exhibition said the photographer "makes the familiar otherworldly with close-up shots ... that turn natural objects into surreal forms resembling alien terrain or voluptuous flesh. Only the titles — such as Rock Forms, Foam, East Verde River, Cactus and Sand — reveal that we're looking at bits of rock or parts of plants."

To learn more about Stuler and the memorial event, visit this Facebook page.

Photo: A Jack Stuler photograph. | Courtesy of "Jack Stuler Legacy" Facebook page

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