Category Archives: Cinematography

Turn Around There’s a Goblin Behind You!

Goblin Rock at Goblin Valley, Utah by Gary Orona

Goblin Rock at Goblin Valley, Utah by Gary Orona

Watch Your Back for Amazing Landscape Photography

When I’m trekking out in wild landscapes I watch my back very frequently. You never know what might sneak up on you. No I’m not talking about mountain lions although I’ve run across fresh cat scat so many times it has crept into my constant awareness! What I’m talking about is periodically turning around and scanning the landscape to my back for two important reasons.

First I’m looking for landmarks that I will see when I’m headed back. If I’m in difficult and maze-like badlands I want markers to get me back to the Land Rover safely. I don’t use rock cairns as markers for many reasons which I’ll get into in a future post so for now, I do not like cairns.

Secondly, sometimes amazing things are happening right behind you. The light is different, the perspective is different and that huge rock you just passed up may look completely amazing from the other side.

So I’m often turning and marching backwards which perplexes newbies I’ve got with me for the trip. I can almost read their minds as the ‘city folk’ are asking themselves, “what the hell is he doing”? Years ago I took an urbanite friend of mine into the Superstition Mountains in Arizona and as I continually marched turned, shifted and gazed intensely across the horizon I could see that he was becoming very uneasy. This went on for hours and soon he was really looking paranoid. When I asked if he was okay he confessed that he was frightened because I seemed so concerned about bears, or mountain lions or some other predator that might jump us!

I laughed and explained that I was memorizing landmarks and watching for possible shots. The blood returned to his face and later that night he had a great time downing a few beers at the campfire unconcerned about death while on a photo adventure!

So here’s this photo of a rock goblin in Goblin Valley, Utah. And yes it snuck up on me. If I hadn’t turned around I would have missed the shot.

Good Thoughts – Gary Orona

BTW I have ultra limited editions of select shots available here:


Muscle Memory Applied to Cinematography and Photography

gary orona uranium truck boot

Uranium Truck Boot by Gary Orona

The Photo Shoots Itself: Zen and the Art of Focal Lengths

In physical fitness excellence comes from repetition and the concept of muscle memory. Your muscles remember stress and they build on it. The same principles apply to your creative muscles. This shot is all about the focal length of the lens. So here’s the setup.

A massive thunderstorm was approaching with a wall of black clouds right behind this group of scattered ones. I had just a few seconds before the sun was going to be lost in the approaching tempest.

With almost no effort I knew to get on the ground with an extreme wide angle lens to make that old boot imposing and powerful. Had I spent any time considering which lens to use this shot would not have happened. So the lesson here is whatever your craft is in life, do it over, and over, and over until it’s second nature. Build those mental muscles so that art happens without effort.

In Zen it is said that the master archer does not force the shot but rather, “the arrow shoots itself”. This level of excellence is not magic or some in-born ‘talent’. This is a product of repetition and love.

Good Thoughts – Gary Orona

BTW This was shot with a lens that would be about 16mm on a 35mm camera.


Kill Your TV and Take a Trip Into Savage Territory

gary orona dinosaur point

The Sublime Branch of Dinosaur Point as photographed by Gary Orona.

Blood, Sweat and Tears vs. Comfortable Desperation

These don’t come easily. Take a look at the landscape behind “The Sublime Branch of Dinosaur Point”. It’s vast and those mountains in the background (the La Sals) are about 50 miles away. This small area of badlands and canyonlands is about 30×60 miles so that’s 1,800 square miles.

To find special secret locations such as this requires trekking on foot seemingly endlessly in this wilderness space and this is just a tiny section of the Colorado Plateau. That’s a lot of marching with packs full of heavy camera gear.

But it’s worth every step.

We can choose to sit comfortably and watch a television which is basically spitting out illusions and propaganda OR we can choose to explore life in savage territory.

I chose savage territory a very long time ago. I have no regrets.

Challenge yourself to your own adventures in 2015. If you’d like to get some inspiration check out my landscapes gallery here.

Good Thoughts – Gary Orona

Be a Balanced Rock with Gary Orona

balanced rock gary orona fingerland

A Balanced Rock as Metaphor for Tenacity Despite Erosional Forces

Persist on the Hero’s Path Against All Erosional Forces

This is what persistence in following your dream looks like. If this rock had given up there would be very little beauty here. This can be a very lonely place. Ask any hero, but that’s no excuse to quit.

Go through the savage gauntlet despite the discouragement you will receive from friends, family and enemies. It’s a lonely place. But it’s worth the journey.

Good Thoughts – Gary Orona

Is There a Ghost in Room 114 a Haunted Hotel?

midland hotel utah gary orona

Haunted Midland Hotel to Host Horror Film

Midland Hotel will One Day Host an Amazing Horror Film!

This creepy old baby stroller moves around quite a bit. It’s upstairs in room 114. I’ll go up there every so often to make sure the bats aren’t getting inside the building and I’m met with this enigma. I haven’t seen the baby or its mother though and hopefully I won’t.

One day we’ll film a scary movie here in the Midland. I won’t have to consider set construction or set dressing. It’s already done. The building has been prepping for the film for more than 100 years now.

Good Thoughts – Gary Orona

For more fine art photos please visit my Photo Gallery.

Master Producer of Wilderness and Exotica Works on: Embracing Effort

Gary Orona has spent more than 30 years filming in truly inhospitable deep wilderness locations very much off the beaten path. And when he’s produced TV and film productions of exotica he’s remained true to this insistence on shooting in challenging exotic locations. Whether producing magnificent landscapes or telling stories in the world of erotica (as in his HBO/Cinemax productions) he’s been absolutely defined by his sense of the primal.

canyonlands gary orona photo

Canyonlands as photographed by Gary Orona

A well known blog journalist while on an outing with Orona recently commented, ” he’s relentless.” He’ll set a destination and we march, climb, scramble and bleed over these massive rock mountains to get there and he then starts shooting. But it doesn’t stop there because he sees something else and three miles later we’re there and he’s shooting again. And this goes on all day long until at the end of it you’ve been slaughtered by this wild landscape… but then he just keeps on going!”

Gary comments, ” you’ve got to be tenacious and find the spirit of the place. Anybody can rent a murky studio and shoot erotica in any town or city. I’m not interested in that. Whether I’m telling a story of lovers or just shooting epic landscapes I want to be in a wild place that has never been filmed in before. It takes tremendous effort. You have to be physically strong and mentally unstoppable and that’s what I like.”

Gary’s photo works can be viewed and purchased here.


A Long Rugged Hike to Film and Photograph in Uranium Badlands

The transfer case on the Land Rover exploded. Our location in the Uranium Badlands in the San Rafael Desert of Utah was miles from the nearest paved road and the old mining road was extreme to say the least. Our little highway car didn’t have a chance. So Tabitha and I loaded up the back packs and hiked the two miles absolutely buried in gear. Don’t let anything stop you from producing your vision. No Land Rover? No problem, pack it in. Success is more tenacity than anything else. Good Thoughts – Gary O.

lake lucifer gary orona tabitha stevens

Tabitha Stevens as photographed by Gary Orona for the TV Series “Lake Lucifer”.

 I’ve got a lot of stock video footage available of wild west locations: Gary Orona Stock Video

Savage Territory Wilderness Video Vignette by Gary Orona

A tribute to especially rugged and unforgiving wilderness landscape locations in the American Southwest as produced and shot by Gary Orona. All clips from the sequence are available as stock footage here: