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WPC: Mirror

This week’s Daily Post Challenge theme is Mirror, and as with many bloggers, I have photos of calm bodies of water. Who can resist pointing the camera towards nature’s reflections?  Those weren’t the only ones I came across, and I realized I have more of these than I initially thought I would.  Here are some of my favorites.

I usually had my camera along with the dogs out for an excursion, and in these shots, I noticed some reflections.

In modern buildings, the glass surfaces almost always offer a mirrored image, and here are a couple favorites from Calgary, Alberta.

With that much volume of water in motion, large rivers seem like an unlikely place to find a mirrored surface. Despite that, early morning on the Colorado River in Marble Canyon in Grand Canyon, Arizona can look like this.

Colorado River reflections in Marble Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park - Steve Bruno - gottatakemorepix

In my backyard (relatively speaking), I have a couple spots I enjoy hiking in Red Rock Canyon, where I came across these mirrored surfaces.

One of my favorite places that I’ve ever hiked, West Clear Creek in Arizona, usually has a breeze moving through the canyon.  Early mornings can be very calm, and pools can be glasslike.

Mountain lakes with reflections appear to have proliferated my files without me being aware of it.  Here are some in that category.

One image that always made me look twice was this one from Coyote Buttes.  There is no water or reflection here, but I felt like the illusion was there.

Coyote Buttes, The Wave - Steve Bruno - gottatakemorepix

I have one photo of an actual mirror. This is the MMT (Multiple Mirror Telescope) at the Whipple Observatory on Mount Hopkins, Arizona.  During daylight, this telescope dish is tilted down and pointing northward.  This was around the summer solstice, and at sunset, when the sun was at its furthest point north.  As I walked by, this cool mountain air had a hotspot about 20 degrees warmer from the sun just grazing the edge of this dish array.  I can’t imagine the destruction if this thing were aimed in the slightest degree towards the sun.

MMT at Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, Arizona - Steve Bruno - gottatakemorepix

Finally, a little bit about the featured image.  That’s Saguaro Lake, on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona.  It’s usually a crowded place, especially in summertime.  This happened to be in winter, after a couple days of rain.  It’s a fairly sizeable body of water, and this reflection has to be a rare moment, and the absence of people, even rarer.  This photo will always have a special place in my memories.  It was the first one I ever had published.

Zion National Park: The Upper East Side

A couple days ago, The US National Park Service celebrated its 100th year.  Although many parks receive significant traffic, there are still parts of those parks where one can stretch out a little.  The east side of Zion NP is one of those spots.

Most visitors to Zion want to see the main canyon and places like Angel’s Landing and The Narrows.  As they head up the winding road and through the spectacular tunnels on the way out the east exit, many are on their way to either Bryce or Grand Canyon.  There are a couple pullouts along this stretch of road, but few spend time here.  Here’s a sample of the features on the upper east side.

WPC: Frame

I find that natural arches usually frame the surrounding scenery very well.  The photo above was taken from underneath Devil’s Bridge, near Sedona, Arizona.  I was fortunate to have just the right amount of clouds helping to fill the frame.

Cave Creek Canyon, in the far southeastern corner of Arizona, is named for all the openings that dot the canyon walls.  From far inside one of the larger openings, looking back into the canyon, I loved how this shot is framed.

Cave Creek Canyon Chiricahua Mountains - Steve Bruno

Historical Photographs, Part IV

Quite a few years ago, my brother and I went on a weekend trip through northeastern Arizona.  One afternoon, we went hiking in at Petrified Forest National Park.  The trail was difficult to follow, so we gave up trying, and just started heading off into the backcountry.  Petrified Forest NP, which lies in the middle of the Painted Desert, has hills that can look the same very quickly, and is not the place for an inexperienced hiker.  After about a couple miles of this, we knew it was almost time to turn around, when something caught our attention.  As we got closer, we couldn’t believe our eyes.  There were two standing petrified trees!  Although one was more like a tree fragment, the larger was about 9-10 feet tall.

Standing Trees - Petrified Forest NP - Steve Bruno

As you take the driving tour through the park, you will see the petrified logs laying on the ground, with some I’ve seen 40-50 feet in length.  I haven’t covered every square mile of Petrified Forest National Park, but I’m pretty sure these trees were the last ones standing.  That day was a complete adrenaline rush, but both my brother and I knew we had to come back and see this again with different skies.

It was almost a year later when our schedules coincided and we had dramatic skies to photograph this rare find.  It had been a wet winter, and the washes still had water as we headed into the backcountry.  Like I said earlier, the hills can look alike, and we were having trouble locating the trees.  We were joking that we were losing our tracking abilities, but then we discovered why we were having difficulty.  The taller of the trees was no longer standing.

As I mentioned, it had been a wet winter, and the soft soil of the Painted Desert captures impressions very well.  When we arrived at the fallen tree, there was a lone set of footprints that wandered towards the tree in an almost drunken fashion, stopped at the tree (easily in arms reach), then continued onward.  When this tree eventually fell, I figured it was going to be towards the right (top photo), but it had fallen to the left.  More importantly, it fell away from the footprints.

I find it highly improbable that this tree stayed upright for so many centuries, then fell on its own within the next year.  The footprints and the direction of the fall lead me to believe it had assistance.  This seems like the senseless destruction that only a young male would do, but then the story about boy scout leaders toppling a boulder in Goblin Valley, Utah a couple years ago makes me wonder.  They were both in their 40’s, and supposed role models, but look like immature teenagers in the video.  Their excuse was “we didn’t want the rock to fall on someone and hurt them”.  Sounds like the bullshit their lawyer fed them.

In the case of the petrified tree, the footprints wandered further into the backcountry.  I honestly hope that the asshole who did this was drunk and couldn’t find their way back, and ended up being a good meal for the coyotes and buzzards.  At least there would be some purpose for this waste of life.

Even with the photos I did manage to get on the first trip, it took a couple tries before I had one published.  Ironically, on the day after the magazine came out, I received a phone call from a photographer who gave me a long winded story when I inquired about one of his locations.  For a brief moment, I felt like sending him on a wild goose chase, but I was still disgusted over this, and just told him how there was nothing left to go back to.

WPC: Morning

As I developed as a photographer, it was evident that I was becoming more of a morning person.  Part of this was due to the fact that I was living in the desert, and hiking and just being outdoors were limited to mornings on many summer days.  When I say morning, I really mean from an hour before sunrise to about an hour after sunrise.  That’s when the light can be truly amazing.

As I started travelling to the National Parks and other highly popular areas, I really appreciated the diminished (and sometimes lack of) crowds first thing in the morning.  I can understand being on vacation and wanting to sleep in, just not if you’re a photographer.

That brings me to my photos for this week’s challenge.  I was on vacation in Hawaii with quite a few family members.  We had been to this spot the day before, and I just looked at everything and knew I had to come back for a sunrise.  Upon returning to our rooms, I said, “I’m going back there first thing in the morning, who wants to join me?”  As I expected the answer was pretty much silence.

I arrived at the parking area just before sunrise and took a couple shots before hitting the trail.  It was a fairly short trail which descended a couple hundred feet to the beach.  It was a very relaxing, almost meditative, morning on a beautiful black sand beach.  About an hour later another person came down the trail, and by that time I was ready to head back.

Hawaii SunriseHawaii Oceanside Cliffs at SunriseHawaii Black Sand Beach Tide

I generally don’t like to wake to an alarm clock, but for occasions like this, I am glad to make exceptions.

WPC: Narrow

This week’s Daily Post Challenge of Narrow made me immediately think of slot canyons.  The most famous (and photographed) one is Antelope Canyon, and you can find thousands of shots from inside the canyon, but have you ever wondered what it looked like from outside?  This is lower Antelope Canyon (above), and that narrow crack in the earth is about 50 to 60 feet deeper than what you can see at this spot.  Water has worn it smooth all the way, so think of this as the bathtub drain if there’s a thunderstorm nearby.

Not far from Antelope Canyon, even deeper and equally claustrophobic is Paria Canyon, with the branch known as Buckskin Gulch.  Once you’ve entered, it remains this narrow for miles, with few escape routes.  The drainage continues upcanyon for many miles, and there are logs jammed in a couple spots high above your head to remind you that this is a sunny day hike.  If it has flooded recently, you will find this impassible due to quicksand.

Buckskin Gulch - Steve Bruno

A much tighter series of canyons exist in Cathedral Gorge State Park in eastern Nevada.  No chance of being caught in a flood here, because these don’t travel very far.  In some spots you will have to walk sideways to get through.  Without some object providing a sense of scale, this may be difficult to obtain perspective, but I can’t walk through this canyon with my feet side by side.

Cathedral Gorge Narrow Canyon - Steve Bruno

One place that I find quite unique is this series of canyons at the base of Mount Charleston, Nevada.  The canyons themselves are not that narrow or deep, but there is this narrow passage from one canyon to the next one.

Secret Passage - Steve Bruno

Monochrome Madness: MM3-14

I love hidden treasures – those places you come across that very few people visit or even know about.  This is one of those places.  It’s on the edge of metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, and so close it may be in the city limits.  But, for the millions living there, most have never seen this.

The water flows year round, and it used to be the dogs’ favorite spot for a walk.  Just not today.  Photography came first.  The scents of the river covered my clothing, and I was frantically sniffed upon returning, and given looks that said How could you go there without us?  I was soon forgiven because dogs are great at that.

This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  You can see what other bloggers have added at Leanne’s site.

WPC: Details

Since I primarily take photographs of nature, my detail shots are mostly in the form of plant life.  Even if I lived somewhere besides the desert, I think I would still be fascinated with cacti.  Sometimes they’re shaped bizarrely, sometimes perfectly symmetrical.  And when you move in close (but not too close) they provide elaborate details.  Most would be vulnerable to damage from insects, birds, and animals if it weren’t for the defense mechanisms – all those thorns.

While many of you live in climates where flowers thrive, we are provided with only a limited showing of those.  Even in the driest of years, when the rest of the desert is stingy with blossoms, the cactus bloom.

Cactus Flower Closeup - Steve Bruno

Trees are the other guaranteed bloomers around here, such as this redbud from nearby Red Rock Canyon.

Redbud Tree in spring, Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

In bloom or not, trees can be fascinating subjects, such as this one from Hawaii with a very entangled root system, or this detail of a bristlecone pine tree.

 

In the southwest, details of canyon walls can make for good photos, such as this one of cross-bedded sandstone in Valley of Fire State Park, or this etched detail in Fletcher Canyon.

 

When I think of detailed shots, the first thing that comes to mind are close-up or macro images.  But sometimes, there are landscapes that have so much going on, that it’s hard to not just look for all the details.  This one is from Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada.

Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada
Textures in eroded clay and sand in Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada. Photo by Steve Bruno.

Monochrome Madness: MM3-12 High

This week’s Monochrome Madness has the theme of High, and my image comes from Harney Peak, South Dakota. It is the highest point in the state, and stands above everything for miles.  At a little over 7200′ it is not a very high altitude compared to those in the Rockies or Sierra Nevada, but its exposed summit and encompassing vistas make it seem loftier.

You can check out how others have interpreted this theme at Leanne Cole’s website

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