Virgin River, Zion National Park

Monday, October 13 — Robert Melgar, “Fall Colors and The Desert”

Photographer Captures American West

To Robert Melgar, west is more than just a direction.

A former Air Force Special Forces member and police officer, Melgar traded in his gun for a camera a few years ago. A self proclaimed “landscape buff,” Melgar enjoys photographing the mountains and trees of Tennessee but has always been drawn to the sweeping vistas of the American West.

Melgar is such a fan of the West he’s even purchased property there. He has taken numerous trips just to photograph the beauty he sees.

“I love the landscape, the open grandeur,” says Melgar. His photographs vividly reflect his passion for the area. Stunning photos of well traveled and little known areas are the result of his trips. Melgar traveled with photography guides and found some hidden treasures he enjoys returning to.

sunrise at WP
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness located in northern Arizona and southern Utah


Melgar’s latest trip began at Amarillo, TX, where he visited the Cadillac Ranch, a graveyard for the abandoned cars since the 1970s. Not one to miss an opportunity, he photographed not only the cars but some interesting graffiti.

Horseshoe Bend, AZ on the Colorado River is a favorite spot of Melgar’s. 1000 feet above the water, Melgar arrived in time for the sunset. “You never know what the weather is going to be, but this time the sky cooperated,” he says. He admits that shooting in the area is a gamble and time, weather, and availability are all factors.

Wearing waterproof insulated shoes and pants, Melgar stood in cold water in The Narrows at Zion National Park to get the shots he wanted.

I love the landscape, the open grandeur.

After a stop in Slot Canyons in Escalante, AZ Melgar stood 4000 feet up on Toroweap, a part of the Grand Canyon, to shoot the sunrise. “No guard rails,” says Melgar when he remembers the shoot.

The terrain at The Wave at White Pocket was “like being on another planet.” To photograph here and some other areas, photographers must participate in a lottery and obtain a permit.

From Arizona to Washington to shoot a waterfall at Palouse State Park, Melgar says he was thinking “I hope it’s worth the two day drive.” He was rewarded with great clouds and golden light.

virgin river
Virgin River, Zion Nat’l Park, Utah

In Sprague, WA, Melgar found a gold mine of retired trucks, and if there’s anything he loves photographing more than the American West, it’s trucks. Melgar was in his element.

The Montana backroads afforded Melgar the opportunity to photograph wildlife. He was thrilled to be in the right place at the right time to find bighorn rams in conflict with heads colliding.

Wyoming, Melgar’s last stop this trip, gave him a chance to photograph at a canyon he knows and loves to hike. A restful week spent here was a highlight of his trip.

Before his next 20 day trip out west (a trip from Arizona to Washington to photograph lightning), Melgar will be speaking to the Cookeville Camera Club about his recent travels. While presenting amazing photographs with discussion of his photography techniques, gear, and processing, he plans to share entertaining stories.

To see Robert Melgar’s photos go to To learn more about the Cookeville Camera Club visit click on “About”.

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