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Finally…A Little Fresh Air

Recently, I had a chance to get out to our closest high elevation hiking spot.  A friend had wanted to get away from the heat, and as with most people I know, didn’t want to to a hike on ‘photographer’s hours’.  With that in mind, I wasn’t going to bring a camera, just my phone.  Then I remembered the last time I did that, and we encountered butterflies and tiny flowers, so I packed my older smaller sensor camera and macro lens.  That’s my idea of keeping it light.

The trail started around 8000 feet, and some of the trees down there had something I had never noticed before.  Coming off the leaves was a thread-like material, covered with fine hairs.  Most of these had a pigtail kind of curve to them, and their lighter color glowed in the backlight.  My first shot of the day is actually one of my favorites.

fine art, tree, sunshine, abstract, steve bruno

Even though these trees were present further up, the threads were not as abundant on those trees.  I think I need to spend more time in this forest to notice the details of seasonal changes.

nature, tree, detail, forest, steve bruno

The photo at the top of this post was taken near the top of the trail.  With my smaller sensor camera I don’t have an extreme wide angle lens, so this was a composite of 10 frames.  We had started out with clear skies, but these timely clouds came passing through, looking more like fall than summer.

We arrived at the end point of one trail, then continued partway on another.  I was wanting to see if the springs were still there after so many dry years.  Just before the springs we found ourselves in the midst of the forest affected by the Carpenter 1 fire which happened in 2013.  Although signs of recovery were evident, these trees will not be coming back, and the eerie feeling remains.

forest fire, trees, nevada

If there’s a positive side to not being in great shape anymore, it’s that the hike took long enough so that we finished with late afternoon light.  Often this is the time of day i would start a hike with photos in mind.  The young aspens were a stark contrast to the trees consumed by fire higher up.

aspen trees, summer, mountains, nevada, landscape photography

The cliffs in the lower part of the trail were beginning to get the glow of reflected light.  The trees here are generally tall, but I couldn’t help but notice there was a giant amongst them.

Mount Charleston, nevada, forest, hiking, fine art, landscape photography,

In addition to better quality of light, late afternoon usually brings out the wildlife.  This young deer showed up trailside in the last half mile, but really wanted nothing to do with me.  There was a significant barrier of shrubs between us, and the one moment I had a clear view, it moved out quickly, so I only got a parting shot.

deer, wildlife, forest, nevada

It’s been a busy summer, and when work has slowed down, I’ve been catching up on lots of backlogged projects.  We’ve had some of the worst looking skies I can ever remember here in southern Nevada, and we haven’t had any fires to speak of.  We’ve had dust blowing in from storms in Arizona, but mostly the smoke from California’s fires.  Most of the big fires throughout the west in the last few years have been human caused.  I’d like to believe that Nevadans are smarter and more respectful of the environment, but the law of averages tells me that stupid people show up everywhere.  I think because we are not a glamorous outdoor destination like our surrounding states, we luck out by getting less people overall.  That’s OK…..more for us to enjoy!

Liquid

At the beginning of this month, we had our last winter storm.  After it cleared out, I went to nearby Red Rock Canyon to catch the rainwater pools before they evaporated, and I posted the first of those shots already.  After that first location, I hiked a little further to another great pool location.  Although now starting to clear out completely, the remaining clouds were just right for the occasion.

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada, rainwater pool, desert, Steve Bruno, landscape photography

rainwater pool, desert, Nevada, Red Rock Canyon, landscape photography

As I took the drive out, the creek crossings had running water, and i knew i had to return the next day to see the waterfalls.  I had aspirations to get to another location, but it’s been years since I’ve seen this one running.  By the time I finished taking photos and videos, it was too late to make it to my originally intended destination.  The water was no longer visible on the drive, and the volume flowing in the falls would probably be gone by the next day.

waterfall, desert, Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

For this week’s Daily Post Challenge:  Liquid

WPC: Rise/Set

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.

Monochrome Madness: MM 200

As the fog became thicker last Sunday, I knew these images were meant to be in b&w.  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.

WPC: Story

“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.

SUNDAY’S HIKE

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.

Mummy Mountain, Lee Canyon, Spring Mountains, Nevada

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.

fresh snow, forest, gottatakemorepix

fresh snow, fog, mountains, Nevada, gottatakemorepix

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.

giant tree, fog, bristlecone pine, Spring Mountains, Las Vegas, Steve Bruno photography

I continued along to an area I have stopped before. The fog gave this group a different light than any previous visit.

forest, Mount Charleston, Nevada, Steve Bruno

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.

dense fog, trees

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.

WPC: Out Of This World

I think flying over the desert provides the best out of this world perspectives, and I wrote about that previously.  For this week’s challenge, I couldn’t help but think of my muse, Valley Of Fire State Park.  I love to explore here for all its intricate, often other-worldy details.

The wall of caves (above) would be mildly interesting, but then there’s all those smaller holes worn in behind them.  Then you have the layers of sandstone with all those colors bleeding through, all combining to make this a very strange place.  I call this one “psychedelic sandstone”.

Valley Of Fire, Nevada, cave, red rock

In some of the caves you can crawl inside, where textures and patterns all come to life when the sunlight comes bouncing in.

Valley Of Fire, Nevada, red rock, sandstone, gottatakemorepix

One of the most unique features I’ve ever seen here is this rib of sandstone, appearing as a leg with a pointed shoe.  For obvious reasons, I call this one “walking sandstone”.

Monochrome Madness: MM 197

Water is the planet’s most precious resource, especially here in the desert.  Last month we finally had a day of rain that put an end to a string of 116 days without measurable rain at the official weather gauge in Las Vegas.  The previous rainfall was a trace…..enough to wet the pavement, but not enough for the insects or birds to get a drink.  Go back another five days to when there were numbers on the rain gauge.  That’s 121 days.  One third of a year.  At a time of year that is supposed to be the wettest.  Similar stats have taken place throughout the southwest.

As each month draws to a close, it seems the news people tell us how it was the hottest (January, February, March, etc.) on record, or at least a top five.  In 2017, the temperature never dropped below freezing, which has never happened here before.  The doubters of global warming will tell you it’s because we are adding more concrete, thus raising temperatures where the official readings are taken.  I assure you, no one is building near our airport.  Even more remote places are showing elevated average readings.

The photo above is from a previous winter, and is from a lesser-known part of Red Rock Canyon, west of Las Vegas.  It’s probably a good thing that there is not a marked trail to get here.  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.

WPC: Favorites

Back when I shot with a large-format view camera, I would certainly agree with Mr. Adams.  Now that I use a camera that can shoot hundreds of frames in a day, oddly enough, I still agree.

I spent time in Hawaii this summer, and I’m sure I have twelve photographs that I like from just the first couple days.  When I look at all of the images I have captured this year, and try to envision those which I will still cherish years from now, the process of choosing twelve became clearer.  My time in nature was limited this year, but I made those moments count.  In some situations I had similar lighting or compositions where I couldn’t really define one shot as a clear favorite, but in the end, I think I’m very happy with these 12.

I don’t own a drone, but I love taking photos from airplanes.  This photo from over White Sands, New Mexico looks amazing at full size, with all the dunes at the edge looking like bubbling foam.

aerial photography, desert, dunes, White Sands, New Mexico, Steve Bruno

My ‘backyard’ locations of Red Rock Canyon or Valley Of Fire didn’t see me as much as in years past, yet I had plenty of images which made the A list.

sunrise, Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada, gottatakemorepix

rainwater pools, Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada, Steve Bruno

reflection, Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada, Steve Bruno

natural windows, sandstone, Valley Of Fire, Nevada, Steve Bruno

natural arch, desert, Valley Of Fire, Nevada, gottatakemorepix

A little further out, but still in Nevada, I captured many satisfactory images in a short time at Cathedral Gorge.  I had no trouble picking a favorite, however.

sunset, desert, Cathedral Gorge, Nevada, gottatakemorepix

Oregon was another place I spent some time last summer.  Although the trip was mainly for a family gathering, I had time afterwards to head to the trails in the Columbia River Gorge.

waterfalls, Oregon, Columbia River Gorge, Steve Bruno

As I mentioned earlier, Hawaii was part of my travels this year, and gave me many great photo opportunities.  My time on the lava fields at sunset certainly stands out as one of my favorite experiences, not just for this year, but for a lifetime.

 

Pacific Ocean, cliffs, Hawaiiold growth forest, Hawaii, trees, gottatakemorepixwaves, lava, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean, Steve Brunolava flow, Hawaii, sunset, gottatakemorepix

 

Monochrome Madness: MM4-27

Some places are just off limits in summertime.  The canyons feeding into the Colorado River from western Grand Canyon on down towards Parker, AZ are all in that category.  This is White Rock Canyon, in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, just below Hoover Dam.  Just like nearby canyons, the gravel in the bottom is your trail, the grade is very light, and the chances of wanting to take out your camera are very good.

You will find this photo along with the work of others on Leanne Cole’s site.  There are also instructions on how to join in every week.

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