I’ve seen many beautiful sunrises and sunsets, with most of those happening in Arizona and New Mexico. Many times I have been in exquisite surroundings, only to have a faint hint of color, or to have the color burst through in a different part of the sky than I was hoping for. There have only been a couple occasions where the entire sky has lit up and I’ve been in an excellent spot to capture it. This was one of those moments from Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona.
There’s no better place to capture photographs of rain than a rain forest. I certainly would be hesitant to bring out my DSLR under these conditions, so this is where I have learned to appreciate my phone’s camera. I’m not sure how well it shows up, but there were plenty of large drops coming down when I took this shot near Hilo last summer.
Takeoffs and landings near thunderstorms can be on the turbulent side, but occasionally there’s a visual reward for being this close. I’m sure I was the only person hoping we would sit on the runway longer because I knew the delay would give this view. We were just a couple minutes off from seeing this one full circle.
As you know by now, I’ve spent a significant amount of time in the desert, and I still have a sense of fascination when the rain showers move through. There’s a unique scent that permeates the air, and a sense of freshness with the rain settling the dust. Summer storms frequently arrive just in time for sunset, providing memorable light shows.
While in Hawaii last summer, I made two nighttime crossings on the road near Mauna Kea. On the first one, the skies were clear and the moon had set for the night. The stars were incredible to witness, and I posted that shot about a week ago. On my second trip, I was driving through fog as I made the ascent. Somewhere near the summit, I pulled over. There was still a still a light haze present, but I could see stars, despite the fact that the moon was still visible. As I looked away from the moon, I saw this….I call it a moonbow.
My last shot from my hike in the fog last week. As I was taking this, my camera was being covered with tiny droplets of water. This is not a telephoto shot – these trees were right in front of me. On a sunny day you would be seeing hundreds of trees from this spot. Glad to be near the end of the trail, I didn’t think it could get any darker or thicker than this. On the drive down, it did manage to get even worse before finally breaking through at lower elevations.
This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week. To see what other photographers have contributed, or instructions to join in, please visit Leanne’s website.
Just because the sun has gone down for the night doesn’t mean it’s time to put away the camera. For some of us, it’s the opposite. This is when the best photos can happen, starting with the blue hour (above). Once the blue hour has passed, you might be lucky enough to catch some stars.
While some don’t venture into the great outdoors after dark, city streets can always provide subjects for your camera. Perhaps you will even encounter some ghosts.
It wouldn’t be much fun watching fireworks in daylight, whether manmade or natural.
If you ever have a chance to witness lava flows up close, you will want to do this after sunset. It’s quite difficult to see the lava underneath the surface, and you might be on top of it before you realize where it’s at.
“Get along little doggie!”
Or in this case, coyote. At least that’s my best guess after an online search. My first impression was bobcat tracks, but those turned out to be much different in shape. This photo alone might be enough for a story, but yesterday turned out to be too good of a day to stop there.
The initial weather forecast called for the storm to be out of here before noon on Sunday. I set my alarm, but then rechecked the forecast one more time. The official weather station on Mount Charleston was at 37 degrees, and the satellite image gave me the impression the event was moving out quicker. With that in mind, I changed the alarm to an earlier time, thinking the sunrise might be spectacular. Upon shutting the alarm off and falling back to sleep, I awoke closer to my original plan, and decided there might still be some something worthwhile to photograph. This just meant I would be joining all the weekend warriors.
As we headed up the mountain, we began to drive through a low cloud cover. Even the tailgaters eased off as visibility became very limited. Just before approaching the ski area, we emerged with a clear view. I pulled off to the side of the road, as the freshly coated Mummy Mountain had great light hitting it. In the time it took for me to cross the road and open up my tripod, the light was gone. The fog we had driven through was racing up the mountainside. Little did I know at the time that this was the last bit of blue sky I would see for the day. That’s Mummy Mountain’s outline in the upper left corner.
Although I was a little disappointed, this was the view everyone else was getting, and I came out to hike a trail I’ve been on several times before – one that would take me up into the snow and the bristlecone pines. When I reached the parking area, there was a vehicle with three young men already returning. I was still reasonably early, and it wasn’t long before their tracks were no longer visible, and my feet were laying down the only marks in the snow. This desert dweller hasn’t been in the altitude much lately, and my stops were numerous. Taking photos was a good excuse to lengthen my stops, because I know I can’t take a steady picture without a tripod when I’m breathing that hard. Especially detail shots with a telephoto lens.
The fog was varying in its density, and with each thinning stage, I thought that was going to be it. The trail started around 8300 feet, and I knew I was up over 9000 feet. The temps were too warm for the snow, and I could see clumps falling off branches all around me. That’s when I came across the tracks. Fortunately my lingering photographer’s pace was allowing other hikers to catch up to me on the trail, many with big dogs, and I knew my chances of becoming breakfast were diminishing. In this area were many trees with intriguing shapes, standing eerily in the fog. I took numerous shots in this area, then continued. In a short time I arrived at the largest bristlecone pine on the trail, perhaps the largest I have ever seen. Around this time the sun became visible, although the fog was still there. I don’t think I have ever seen this tree under more perfect conditions.
I continued along to an area I have stopped before. The fog gave this group a different light than any previous visit.
I tried continuing further, but this part of the trail, now around 9500 feet, had a little deeper snowfall. And a steeper pitch with a slight sideways pitch. That was becoming too much work without spikes under my shoes, so I headed back. This turned out to be excellent timing, as the fog was making a comeback. The trail was getting slippery and/or muddy in spots, I was starting to feel the fatigue of mountain air. I could barely see the forest in the canyon right in front of me.
I made one final stop, and as I did the fog was now leaving many microdrops on my camera, though not my lens. Those made for some excellent b&w images which I will post soon. It was close to 2:00 when I finished, and the conditions were not what I was anticipating, but certainly made for an awesome day.
For a nature photographer, trees and their leaves have to be a top subject matter. The photo above was from the forest floor near Hilo, Hawaii. Also from the big island, about 50 miles away was this strange looking one. A pregnant tree? Hmmm.
In the same forest was this one which I call “reaching out”.
I think the trees most associated with Hawaii would have to be palm trees.
Much closer to home, on the slopes of Mount Charleston are my favorite trees to photograph – the bristlecone pines.
I have fond memories of running through the yard kicking up fallen leaves while growing up. That might be a little tough to do with all these boulders, but the forest floor in Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona is beautiful in autumn.
Life in the desert moves at a slow pace. Without much water, growth is slow, and subsequently, so is death. This dying cholla cactus appears to have marked its own grave, but will eventually succumb to the elements and gravity. The younger, healthier ones (right portion of frame) are bright yellow or green and are easy to notice and avoid. During their life, they eventually drop several sections. In the course of time those begin to camouflage themselves, browning to match the stones beneath, and still just as painful. Walking through a dense cholla forest is like navigating a minefield. If you manage to get too close to one, you will swear you have been bitten by something.