Last week we had a late season winter storm which brought snow to the mountains and a decent amount of rain to lower elevations. I went out to hike around the rainwater pools before they evaporated, and was fortunate to have plenty of fast-moving clouds for long-exposure photos. 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.
I am always intrigued by desert plants and how they grow and bloom. The agave (above) grows from a tightly packed center. As the leaves peel outward, they retain the lines of the leaves they grew adjacent to. The plants provides great lines and textures and photograph well from many angles, but I always liked this one showing the core.
Bolts of lightning always leave fascinating lines, whether a single strike, or a multitude. This was probably the most potent and tightly concentrated thunderstorm I ever photographed.
Another weather situation that can provide great lines to photograph are icicles.
I’m always looking for trees to photograph, mostly based on their lines and the shapes they create.
Sometimes, I don’t even have to look upward to see the photograph I want from a tree. Ponderosa pines are one of many types of trees with great bark patterns.
I find that landscape photographs are often best when there are lines that take you through the frame. The southwestern US has many locations with powerful lines.
The canyons near Escalante, Utah streaked with desert varnish, or the twisted sandstone of the Vermillion Cliffs are just two examples of that.
I remember the first Earth Day in 1970. At our school, each of the students was given a small tree to plant. We planted ours in the front yard, and it remained a small tree for what seemed an eternity. Although I have not lived in that house for many years now, I can go on Google Earth for a peek and see how much it has grown. Although that is just one simple act, I cannot get a visual progress reminder how my daily efforts to be as green as possible are working.
When I planted that tree, I was still young, and didn’t realize that an environmental movement was needed. I do remember public service ads against littering, and that it wasn’t uncommon to see a bag or a can flying out of the window of the car in front while driving down the highway. I don’t think I began to comprehend the magnitude of mankind’s waste until the first time I heard the expression acid rain. As our numbers grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy planet, especially with consumer products becoming cheaper, and in the minds of many, more disposable.
Somewhere near the top of our environmental problems list would have to be our use of plastics. Once they find their way to major rivers and oceans, they mostly end up in one of 5 garbage patches currently circulating our planet’s oceans. Fortunately, there is an effort underway called The Ocean Cleanup, whose goal is to eliminate these vast floating debris piles. You can go to their website to read more about it, or possibly donate to their cause. This is, of course, just a large band-aid to a large problem. The real solution is to curb our use of plastics and make sure they end up being recycled.
Here in the US, one of the more prominent issues in recent times was the reduction of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. If ever there was a case to show that politicians work for special interests, and not the people, this would be it. In the public input phase of this reduction, 99% of the respondents favored keeping the monument as it was. In the redistricting map of the GSENM, they have created three separate national monuments. Inside the former GSENM lies the highest concentration of well-preserved fossils ever discovered. It also contains the richest and most accessible coal deposit in the state of Utah, which is no longer under protected status on the new map. Coal consumption is on the decline in this country, so any coal mined here would most likely be sold to China.
Several lawsuits were filed to block the reduction of the national monuments, and Utah politicians immediately introduced a bill to manage the new property and see to it no further changes could ever be made. Proposed management of the new national monuments would consist of a seven member panel, of which, a majority would be local county officials. One of the members would also be appointed by the President, so a real public voice would be lost there as well. These are still federal lands, not designated as Utah state parks. Yes, our public lands in the hands of local politicians. This is a precedence we cannot establish. You can blame Trump all you want, but this ordeal was promoted and encouraged by Utah politicians. We can all follow suit from the Outdoor Retailers Association, and some of its vendors, who have boycotted the state of Utah for its policies about the environment and how it should be overseen. Although unlikely, a boycott by all potential visitors would send a message to the cronies in Salt Lake City that people coming to see the special lands in the southern part of the state provide a viable and profitable tourism economy. Once this land is tarnished it will remain that way.
On a more positive note, a project I wrote about previously has been killed off. The Grand Canyon Escalade, was voted down by Navajo Nation Council late last year. Efforts by the tribe are underway to designate this area as a sacred site, and prevent any future blemishes on this special region from rearing their ugly heads again. Perhaps a long legacy of Native Americans being offered roses, only to discover that they were just getting the fertilizer, has provided Navajos and other tribes a better insight to what is truly best for them and their land. A special thank you goes out to the Navajo Nation Council and their wisdom for a long-term vision.
I find cacti to be amazing plants in their ability to grow in the harsh conditions of the deserts of the world. The defense system of these cacti, their needles, come in a variety of lengths and clusters. Although it’s often just a painful nuisance for man, the needles are designed to keep out birds and animals that would take interest in one of these plants. Generally speaking, large cacti have large needles and smaller cacti have smaller needles. I have seen smaller cacti with large needles, but never large cacti with small needles. Most often, they are spread across in a bit of a random pattern, but occasionally can be symmetrical as though computer designed. If a cactus looks as though it might be soft and fuzzy, it’s probably the worst kind to get near. Take for example, the one below whose pads look like potato chips. It’s called a Funny Bunny, and might rank as one of the worst names ever for a plant. One graze against this plant will leave dozens, or possibly hundreds of microscopic needles in your skin. I know of one person who transported one on a breezy day and ended up in the hospital that evening having needles removed from his eyes. Nothing funny about this one.
The top photo 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.
About a week ago, I was hiking in nearby Red Rock Canyon. The hike itself was more like scrambling amongst the sandstone outcrops, and it wasn’t until we started driving that we noticed a few bushes that seemed to have spider webs. Finally coming closer to one, it was clear they were cocoons. The plants that did have them, did not contain singular cocoons, but held clusters. I finally had to pull over to investigate, and grabbed my iPhone for some videos. It was rather breezy and I knew that would wreak havoc for focus on my DSLR videos. At first, I thought it might be too early to see anything of interest happening inside the cocoons, but then there were subtle signs of life. As I approached this cocoon, I noticed there were two escapees, as well as the cluster with activity.
For this week’s Daily Post Challenge: Awakening
Antelope Canyon is one of the most photographed spots in the southwestern US. As you wander through this tight canyon, you can’t help but eventually look towards the sky which is no longer visible. Light tries to find its way to the bottom, and as it does, highlights the textures of the smooth, twisted, sculpted walls.
This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week. Being the first one of the month, there was a theme of From Under. To see what other photographers have contributed, or instructions to join in, please visit Leanne’s website.
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.