Steve Bruno Photo


April 2015

WPC: Motion appears in a variety of subjects

I went searching through the archives for this week’s challenge, because I didn’t think I was going to find motion in my landscape photographs.  I prefer those to be sharp and still, but I even found some surprises there.  I couldn’t really chose a favorite, but maybe you’ll have one.

Auto racing at Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI
Auto racing at Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI
Waves crash the shore near Hilo, HI
Waves crash the shore near Hilo, HI
Drummer in action
Drummer in action
Stars above the forest of Mount Charleston
Stars above the forest of Mount Charleston
LPGA Hall-of-famer Nancy Lopez
LPGA Hall-of-famer Nancy Lopez
Parker Creek moves swiftly through it's canyon
Parker Creek moves swiftly through its canyon
Could there be motion in a solid object?
Could there be motion in a solid object?
Nighttime on the streets of Seattle
Nighttime on the streets of Seattle

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Motion.”

Earth Day 2015

April 22nd is Earth Day, an idea originally started in 1970. It also marks the day that Ansel Adams passed away in 1984.  Adams was one of the greatest advocates for the environment and our role as stewards, so this post is a tribute to him.  The town of Kanab, Utah uses the slogan “Greatest Earth On Show”, which is hard to refute given its proximity to Zion, Bryce, and many other unique locations.  In keeping with Adams’ style my black and white photo comes from Zion National Park, Utah.

On the 45th anniversary of this day, I can’t help but think that we haven’t made very good progress as stewards of the earth.  Our rapidly growing population can only place more stress on resources that are already being pushed to their limits.  News stories abound about overfishing, forests being cleared or rapidly dying, greenhouse gas emissions, water shortages, etc.  I’m not sure if there is a more blatant example of our mismanagement of natural resources than China’s current water situation.  In their rush to industrialization, they have depleted thousands of rivers, and are now in an effort to channel water from the southern part of the country northward to the civilization centers.  Having lived in a desert for the better part of my life, the message has always been out there for water conservation.  I hope this crisis instills the same message to the Chinese.

It has taken many years for the problems facing us and our planet to build, and they won’t be going away overnight.  Perhaps a reminder like Earth Day will make us think about our daily decisions and any long-term ramifications.

Happy Earth Day!

WPC: Early Bird (2) – Sedona

Sedona Sunrise

I was in Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon to shoot the autumn colors. The canyon runs mostly north-south and is so deep that there is no golden hour. On the flipside, I can photograph all day long that time of year in the canyon.

It was early morning, and it appeared as though it was going to be a bland day. Autumn can get hazy sometimes, and there wasn’t anything motivating me around Sedona, so I headed out towards Red Rock Crossing. This has always been a sunset shot as far as I was concerned. I had never seen a morning shot of it, or been nearby to see that there was potential for a morning shot here. I was really just biding time until I had enough light to get back into the canyon.

There is a fair amount of planning that goes into my photo trips, and then sometimes I just get lucky. As the sun came up, there was no scurrying around to get this shot. The day before or the day after might have worked, but I think I timed it precisely.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Early Bird.”

WPC: Early Bird – Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

To this day, this remains the most spectacular sky I have ever seen in Las Vegas, and certainly a top five anywhere. Unlike most photos where we only get to see a snippet of what’s happening, this sky had a similar appearance as far as I could see.

When I’m on the road, it’s a given that I will get up early to try to get the best light for my subject. This was in my backyard, relatively speaking. I had watched the weather segment on the news the previous night, and the timing of an approaching front looked as though it might coincide with sunrise, so I set my alarm.  I drove out to nearby Red Rock Canyon, and well before the sun hit the horizon, I knew it was going to be incredible. The clouds were consistent, and not very low, so the color just came through in waves as the sun started to hit the horizon. It is the only time I’ve had friends call me later in the day to see if I was out there capturing the sunrise.  Apparently, it was like a red beacon coming into everybody’s home in Las Vegas.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Early Bird.”

Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge: Close-ups

It’s way too windy outside to attempt any close-ups, so I thought I’d have some fun with my camera indoors. The source for this shot – a 2013 US quarter with the tribute to Mount Rushmore (just a reminder that it’s tax time for procrastinators). This is an uncropped shot taken with a Pentax 40mm lens with two extension tubes. Exposure 1/3 second f/8 ISO 200.

In response to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

WPC: Afloat – Yosemite

We were in Yosemite in springtime, when a cold front passed through. The next morning there were chunks of ice floating down the river that hadn’t been there the previous mornings. We traced it back to the source – Yosemite Falls. The spray from the falls had built up a layer of ice close to a foot thick during the night and was now melting. This probably happens on a regular basis there, but I have never seen photos of it.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: Afloat

The source for all the ice:

Yosemite Falls in spring, Yosemite National Park, California

Sunday Stills, the next challenge: yellow or wildflowers

I was down in Arizona this week, and while the early flowers have succumbed to the heat, the cactus are now beginning to show. And, as it turns out, there’s a little bit of yellow in this one.

Sunday Stills: 100+

Here in Las Vegas, there is nothing 100 years old. I think it’s an unwritten law that a building must be imploded when it reaches 40 years, with something new and shiny replacing it. I had this shot in my files from the desert west of Salt Lake City, Utah. There were no historical markers or anything to indicate its age or any significance. I’m guessing its time to be from early 1900’s. Maybe a reader with more knowledge on building methods of the past might weigh in with some better info. In response to Sunday Stills Photo Challenge

Seating for hundreds, but only one in the audience

I had several photographs that I considered posting for the ‘ephemeral’ challenge, and this was one of the runner-ups. Besides, it has a story. I’ve spent many days at the Grand Canyon. Months, if you tallied them all up. This was the most spectacular morning I have ever seen there, and this image was my reward for waiting it out.

The Grand Canyon has inversions, about once every several years according to the National Park Service. On those occasions, the whole thing fills with fog and lasts a while and doesn’t offer much of a view into the canyon. This wasn’t one of those events, but in a single still frame it may appear that way.

This morning started like any other. I got up at dark o’clock, crawled out of the sleeping bag, put on appropriate clothing and started my truck (my home on wheels at times). My sleep had been interrupted several times through the night by thunderstorms. Just when I thought they couldn’t get any worse, they did. I was camped in familiar territory in the National Forest outside the park boundary because it is a quiet spot – from people, anyway.

Cape Royal is the last stop on the North Rim Drive. It is only a couple miles away from the North Rim Village as the crow flies, but twenty-something miles for those of us in a vehicle. As I walked out to the point the sky had become less black, and I could see that there was potentially going to be a window in the clouds for the sun to make a grand entrance. The air was still wet, but it wasn’t raining. It was more like the wind was sucking away raindrops from the storms that were a couple miles away to the west, right about where the village and my campsite were. Meteorologists have a term for this, they call it ‘training’. One strong thunderstorm rolls through and sets up a favorable environment for others to follow. I think this one had four engines, because the caboose was nowhere in sight.

This was still the film era. There were no weather seals on my 4×5 camera, and those errant raindrops weren’t going away. As sunrise was getting near, I could see that the opening in the clouds was still there, but if the sun came through it was probably going to be muted. The overall look was still very gray and hazy. The thing that struck me as odd was the lack of people. The parking lot has room for over a hundred vehicles and I’ve seen it full, especially at sunset. Cape Royal is a great spot anytime because of its sweeping view and options for photographs.

Commence act one. The skies in my proximity were ugly, but the sun streamed across the Painted Desert with no obstructions. I was cringing. Raindrops were still drifting in from the west, and as long as that was happening, I couldn’t get a shot. As the sun hit them, they produced a full distinct double rainbow in a purple sky. It was absolutely insane looking! The spectacle lasted for at least five minutes before the color started to shift, and the spectrum became less intense. After another five minutes, the sun slid into the lip of the cloud cover and act two of the show began. All the cliffs below me were wet and glowing from the early morning sun. The colors were more intense than I had ever seen there. Rainwater pockets on all the mesa tops glistened like topaz crystals were strewn about, and I still wasn’t getting any shots. Neither was anybody else, because there still was nobody else.

Act two wrapped up and I wasn’t sure there was going to be an act three. It was back to being ugly gray with no more potential windows visible. But the air had dried out. Now? Really? I was so frustrated at the timing of it all. I knew I had witnessed a special morning there but had nothing to show for it. I headed back to my vehicle for some breakfast. Intermission, as I like to call it. Nothing to do but wait out the morning, and the vantage point from Cape Royal was the perfect place to catch any indication of a change in the light. The smell of rain-soaked sage and pine filled the air, I still had the place to myself, and the peacefulness of it all was refreshing.

Breakfast was over, and the sun started to win its battle against the clouds, making it brighter and warmer. I grabbed my camera and headed back out to the point. Enter act three. All that moisture below needed to escape into the atmosphere, and that warm late-summer sun was hitting stride. Slowly, little patches of fog began to congregate below me. There didn’t appear to be any more threat of raindrops, so I had my camera on its tripod. Despite it being well past sunrise, the colors were getting better. I began capturing images as the collection of cloudlets was gaining strength. Finally, as one big mass, they begin to lift, and roll across the mesa immediately below me. I was using a panoramic roll film back and clicking as fast as that camera would allow. The entire process would have been a spectacular time-lapse film clip, but I was glad to be capturing images at last. Then, almost as quickly as it came together, it all broke back into fragments and was dissipating. I was packing my camera up as I heard an enthusiastic voice on the rocks above me. “Hey, come see this!” the first of the sleeping villagers beckoned to the others. I felt like yelling out, “Show’s over – you missed it!”

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