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Hitting The Pause Button

As with most of the world, Las Vegas came to a screeching halt this spring. Getting out of the house for exercise was encouraged, and as I mentioned before, bike rides were part of that agenda for me. The weather was still cool for much of the stay-at-home period, but riding around my immediate neighborhood leaves much to be desired. I realized it wasn’t much of a ride to get someplace that most of us avoid like…..well…..the plague.

Las Vegas Blvd, aka The Strip, is usually very crowded and noisy and no place for a bicycle. Now, the wide open sidewalks (not to mention all those open traffic lanes) made for great pedaling. There was still some traffic, sequenced into tiny parades controlled by the traffic lights, and never enough to be a concern for riding on the asphalt.

The Strip, quarantine, Las Vegas, Steve Bruno

The Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace, which once held the distinction of being the most expensive retail space in the US, had a mostly empty sidewalk, with some occasional joggers, pedestrians and dogs. You would never see this most times of the year. Just down the street, Fashion Show Mall was just as quiet.

Caesar's Palace, Forum Shops, Las Vegas Blvd, lockdown
Las Vegas Blvd, quarantine, Forum Shops, Nevada
Las Vegas, quarantine, Fashion Show Mall, Nevada

There is one spot that is almost always guaranteed to be busy, no matter what the temperature or time of day. The infamous sign. Other people were here when I took these, casually taking their time with lots of photos and videos, a luxury not allowed when there are 50 people waiting their turn. And yes, I was standing in the middle of the road with a tripod for the street view. This was only around 9 o’clock at night!

Welcome Sign, quarantine, Las Vegas, Steve Bruno
quarantine, Las Vegas Blvd, Steve Bruno

When I first started my LV Blvd bike rides, I was mostly alone. There were a couple joggers, pedestrians, and another bike or two. There was a very pleasant period where the temperatures and cloud conditions made me opt for hiking instead, and when I returned, all of a sudden, bike riding the Blvd had become a thing. Hundreds of other bike riders were filling the sidewalks and spilling into the street. The mall had even opened up a parking lot to accommodate the riders. Still, it was a far cry from the usual volume of this road.

quarantine, Las Vegas Blvd, Steve Bruno
quarantine, Las Vegas Blvd, Steve Bruno

Construction was deemed necessary business during the shutdown, and shortly after my first ride, cones and zones became abundant. A short distance off the Blvd, the Las Vegas Convention Center was working on an expansion. This is the most scaffolding I have ever seen in one setting, and I think this photo would be a truly maddening jigsaw puzzle.

construction, Las Vegas

The Path To Recovery

About a half year ago, I suffered a severe leg injury which kept me from being outdoors with my camera.  A couple weeks of being mostly bedridden and using crutches to get around eventually gave way to being able to do some work and the start of physical therapy.  My physical therapist was hesitant about me hiking at first, so my first couple trails were relatively flat.  No backpack filled with tripods or cameras either, just a phone.  Earlier this year, I finally made a hike with all the gear on a trail that had more difficulty involved.  I could feel the difference of the terrain versus just being in therapy.  I can’t imagine how long I would have been out if I wasn’t taking care of myself before this accident, and now that we’re all being asked to stay home, I realize I need to keep moving more than ever.

red rock canyon, nevada, las vegas, rain, hiking, fine art, Steve Brunored rock canyon, nevada, las vegas, rain, reflection, hiking, fine art, landscape photography

While many National Parks and other recreational areas have closed, there are some which remain open.  These may not be the desired locations which attract social media throngs, but those who’ve seen my work know I don’t really go there anyway.  The first location (above) was after some areas had shut down, making this a more crowded parking lot than usual.  Despite that, I had very few people on the trail I was on, and getting here requires a scramble, so I enjoyed the place to myself.

That area has since become off limits, as has the next spot, on a hike taken in March.  While this area starts on a popular trail, it soon takes off to an old trail, which quickly fades and becomes a scrambling route.  Again, social distancing didn’t apply here because there were no other groups.

waterfall, red rock canyon, nevada, las vegas, Steve Brunowaterfall, nevada, desert, creekdesert, nevada, hiking, red rock canyon, Steve Bruno

One of the remaining open trails has plenty of open space to absorb a higher number of hikers keeping distance between them.  Leaving the trail and boulder hopping the creek also provides more privacy and the best views.

water, red rock canyon, nevada, las vegas, Steve Brunored rock canyon, nevada, las vegas, hiking, fine art

Higher up, this canyon becomes more rugged and takes on different characteristics.  While most would have a different opinion on what constitutes a waterfall, I’m going to state that this is southern Nevada’s largest waterfall.  It had been raining earlier, but only a light amount, and had been snowing above.  This probably won’t be noticeable at this size, but there are small streams of water coming down on almost all the canyon walls in this scene.  While the wall to the left is the most obvious, the water can be seen in many spots when standing here (and on my computer screen in full size).  Waterfall or not, I like how this one came out.

red rock canyon, nevada, las vegas, rain, hiking, fine art

Midweek Monochrome 8-28-19

I find that many photogenic boulder locations tend to be in lower deserts here in the southwest.  Joshua Tree National Park comes to mind when I see what other photographers like to cover.  The boulders there may receive more attention than the tree the park is named for.  There are much better Joshua Trees to see than the ones there, so I completely get this one.

The subjects of my photo come from the cooler, higher elevations of Prescott National Forest in central Arizona.  The tree at the back is what caught my attention here.  It provides a nice contrast and an element of scale for these massive rocks.  The clouds drifting into the frame completed the scene for me.

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’ location of Red Rock Canyon 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

 

 

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: MM4-31

On my first full day on the big island of Hawaii this summer, I set out to return to some locations that I had visited my previous time there.  I hadn’t checked the weather before I set out, so I was unaware that a tropical storm was a couple hundred miles offshore.  The first place I stopped at was too wet to get out for pictures, and I thought the day might be a bust.  I was pleasantly surprised to drive a little further, and see drier conditions for another spot with fond memories.

I chose my first location cautiously because the waves were more robust than my last visit.  The area I picked didn’t have a single drop of water anywhere under my feet.  Nonetheless, I waited about 10 minutes and watched wave activity before unpacking the camera and tripod.  That first spot was on a ledge about 15 feet above ocean level, and the bigger waves splashed close to that height, but all towards the left.  I spent over half an hour there, getting some great stills and video.  Afterwards, I moved to some other areas along this point where the water was calm by comparison.

I thought I was almost done, but returned to the first spot, just slightly further back.  The contrast between the close rock formations and the ones slightly further, with occasional light splashes of water, gave me a different perspective.  I had my shutter release cable attached and my drive on high speed, because you never know what you might get with water splashing.  You can always delete the boring ones.

All I will say is that I heard this one coming.  Instinct told me to keep holding the shutter.  This is not a telephoto shot, but actually a bit of a wide angle lens.  Somewhere under all that airborne water is the spot I had been standing earlier.

This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  In the first week of the month, there is a theme, with this theme being up in the air.  To see what other photographers have contributed, or instructions to join in, please visit Leanne’s website.

WPC: Serene

As is probably obvious by now, I have a fascination with the desert.  The plants, features, textures and moods always provide reasons to explore further.  Although I have experienced serenity in the desert, I’m not sure I have images that convey that mood – especially to those who have never truly explored those same places.

I think there are many who would agree that oceans are a great place to find serenity, especially on a remote beach at sunrise.  I find that sunrises, in general, tend to be more peaceful and calming than sunsets.  Perhaps because they signal the start of a new day, often witnessed alone.  Almost everyone I know thinks this is not a good time to be awake yet.  That’s OK.  More serenity for me to enjoy.

clouds, reflection, black sand beach, Hawaii, solitude

trees, mountains, sunrise, colorado

I can find calm settings just about anywhere in nature, but I think forested mountains would have to be second on my list, right after oceans.  Having a lake or a small stream is certainly an added element of calming.

mountains, lake, reflections, wasatch mountains, utah, Steve Bruno

Black Hills, South Dakota, rolling hills, Steve Bruno

I spend a fair amount of time in airplanes.  By allowing myself to get distracted looking out the windows, I find this can become very calming, especially when flying over seemingly infinite cloud cover.

gulf of mexico, clouds, aerial photography, gottatakemorepix

clouds, aerial photography

Also making my list would have to be any moment when witnessing a rainbow.  This one happened to be from an airplane.  Ahhhhhhh!

rainbow, sunset, sacramento, california, aerial photography

 

PHOTOS:

  • Feature photo:  Early morning on a black sand beach in Hawaii
  • 2nd:  Same beach and morning as above
  • 3rd:  Sunrise from Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  • 4th:  Small lake in the Wasatch Mountains, Utah
  • 5th:  Infinite rolling hills from the Black Hills, South Dakota
  • 6th:  Minimal cloud cover over the Gulf of Mexico
  • 7th:  Sea of clouds somewhere over Texas
  • 8th:  Rainbow upon approach to Sacramento, California

Monochrome Madness: MM4-30

I’ve had plenty of time in airplanes recently, and this is the view of the desert just east of here in the Arizona desert.  I have crossed this location several times, but never with this beautiful early morning light.

This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  Next week there will be a theme of Up In The Air.  My photo next week will not be another aerial view….this is just a teaser.  To see what other photographers have contributed, or instructions on how to join in, visit Leanne’s website.

WPC: Glow

When I saw the title for this week’s photo challenge, I immediately thought of some of the canyons I’ve visited.  The canyons of the southwestern US are great places to hike because there is often shade.  Because of the shade, light reaching the bottom is often reflected off higher sunlit walls, resulting in a warm glow.  In those canyons where water is present, the effect is magnified.

My photo comes from Zion National Park, Utah.  As sunrise lit up the high cliffs on a morning with clear blue skies, the North Fork of the Virgin River glowed from the light being cast onto it.

Monochrome Madness: MM4-24

Last winter/spring was one of the wettest that California has ever seen, and was declared a drought-buster by several accounts.  Now, about a half year later, we have seen the most devastating fires to ever hit that state.  What happened to all that water?  Did the drought really go away?

Intense, out-of-control fires have occurred in places that you would not normally expect these to take place.  Oregon, Montana, western Canada, and now Portugal have all been in the news for their fires this year.  A reasonable person would have to look at this situation and wonder if there is something we can do for long-term fire prevention.  The White House says global warming and climate change is a hoax.  More FAKE NEWS!

My photo is from several years ago, and is one of my favorites from a springtime trip in what used to be a normal weather year.  I know fires have threatened Yosemite National Park in recent years, and I can’t help but wonder if the next one is the one that leaves the park in ashes.

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 her website.

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