Steve Bruno Photo


January 2017

WPC: Graceful

A 2000 pound animal graceful?  Are you kidding?

There are 2 places in Arizona where you can find buffalo.  One of them, House Rock Valley Ranch, has no fences.  The Grand Canyon, Kaibab Plateau, and Vermillion Cliffs all form a natural perimeter.  With that much land to cover, don’t expect coming here for animal sightings.

On my first visit to House Rock Valley, I had my brother and his daughter along.  She got excited when she saw the sign about the buffalo ranch, but we let her know about the vastness of the property so her hopes were not too high.  We drove many miles out to where we set up camp overlooking Marble Canyon, then drove back slightly for another overlook.  When we came across a road junction which we had crossed not more than an hour before, there were 5 buffalo standing in the road.  Collectively, they easily outweighed my vehicle, so we just sat and watched.  After a minute or so, they got bored with the standoff, and started to move along the side of the road.  We drove slowly beside them, and then they picked up their pace.  We matched them.  They continued to pick up their pace, at which point I noticed we were driving 35mph.  We were on a fairly smooth road, they weren’t!  After about a minute of running with the herd, they peeled away until we lost sight of them.

A few years later I returned to House Rock Valley.  This time was specifically to cover the buffalo, and unfortunately, it was hunting season.  The herd’s numbers are maintained, and only a handful of permits are issued each year.  These buffalo know when it’s hunting season, and become scarce.  Rising from the valley at about a 45 degree angle, the Kaibab Plateau has some twisting, sheer walled canyons.  The buffalo traverse these canyons like bighorn sheep, and the hunters can’t follow. I met with the manager of the ranch, and he was full of information about these animals.  One story he relayed was about the animals’ ability to leave no trace.  There are no reliable water sources here, so they have placed water tanks about in several spots.  In hunting season, the buffalo will enter from one side, then step on a rock or clump of grass, get their drink, walk around to the other side of the tank, all the while being selective as to where they step, and not leave a track within ten feet.  Is it any wonder these animals were so revered by Native Americans?

Monochrome Madness: MM3-39

Now that winter snows have returned to the mountains of the southwest, the small streams that lie dormant much of the year are returning to life.  This one never really dries up, but this is a decent non-flood rate.  In the mountains east of Tucson, Arizona, my photo comes from the desert oasis of Tanque Verde Wash.

You will find this image, along with those taken by other photographers at Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  Instructions on how to participate are there as well.

WPC: Ambience

For this week’s Daily Post Challenge of Ambience, I tried to think of one place that captures the mood of the southwestern deserts.  Monument Valley, in the heart of the Navajo Indian Reservation, tops my list.  As with any location that is highly visited, there is the tackiness that comes with tourism.  But spend a day in this valley, and seek out moments of solitude.  If you happen to be here when the rains come through, you might be rewarded with sunsets like this.

Monochrome Madness: MM3-38

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon can be miserably hot in the early parts of summer, so many people find it surprising how miserably cold it can be in winter.  As with many canyons of the southwest, snow doesn’t stick to the sheer walls, so the layers are accentuated by the snow.  Even in relatively flat light, this adds depth to the scene.  Photos taken when winter storms are in the clearing process are some of the most dramatic I’ve ever seen of the canyon, and the temps are usually tolerable at that point.  Watch out for the days following, when wind chill factors can make it feel like Canada.

This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  Instructions on how to participate, and the contributions of others can be found on her website.

WPC: Names

“Holy beignets and po’ boys, Batman – this place does exist!”

While in New Orleans not too long ago, I came across this building.  Gotham Industries.  The sun was down, the sky was getting stormy, and the only thing missing for a movie setting was the bat signal in the sky.

For this week’s Daily Post Challenge: Names

Monochrome Madness: MM3-37

Last Saturday I had a chance to head out to our nearby mountains.  It had rained down here in the Las Vegas area the day before, and I thought there would be a good chance for some fresh snow higher up.  Even at an elevation of 8000′ there was only a dusting, yet the light up there made for photographs that didn’t disappoint.  I was heading back down when I came across this location.  I knew this was meant to be b&w, and this is straight out of the camera using the monochrome settings.  This is my last shot from 2016, and a nice way to finish the year.

You can find this photo, along with the work of others on Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness weekly posting. There are instructions on her website on how to participate, if you’d like.

WPC: Resilient

This is a very resilient world we live in, and the desert has many examples of that.  When I saw this week’s challenge, one of the first places I thought of was the White Rim in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.  It’s hard to fathom the resiliency in this pillar of sandstone which remains standing while everything around it has eroded away.  This formation was once part of a long isolated wall similar to those in the background, yet still standing after many thousands (or perhaps millions) of years.

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