Steve Bruno Photo


Aerial Photography

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Rain or Rainbows

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.

desert rain

Rainbow panorama

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.


For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Rain or Rainbows

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



  • 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: Shadow

When I schedule my flights, I try to arrange them so that I’m taking photos near sunrise or sunset.  The colors are more saturated, and the shadows of even the smallest features become elongated.  For this week’s challenge of shadow, I immediately thought of being up in the skies looking down, and my photo comes from somewhere northwest of Las Vegas.

Monochrome Madness: MM3-33

On a recent trip into Seattle, the pilot announced that we would be landing in overcast and light rain conditions.  Either the weather changed very quickly or his updates were not recent.  Low clouds with pockets of sunshine made for all kinds of great light on the Puget Sound and downtown Seattle.

This is my contribution to this week’s Monochrome Madness hosted by Leanne Cole.  The photos from other bloggers and instructions on how to participate can be found on her site.

WPC: It’s Not This Time Of Year Without…

…some travelling.  For many people, getting together with family involves a trip through the air, and airports can be ridiculously crowded from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.  For me, I always seem to be on the move for work this time of year, and a TSA pre-check was an early Christmas gift to myself recently.

Window Seat VII: Earth or Mars?

Well, the obvious answer is Earth, but several locations I’ve flown across bear resemblances to sci-fi movie settings.  These are all desert locations, so it probably helps that I fly in and out of Las Vegas.  This also means we’re still at an altitude low enough to see great detail.

Mojave Desert, patterns, aerial, Arizona, Steve Bruno
Textures of the Mojave Desert
desert hills, southern Arizona, aerial, Steve Bruno
Hills in the desert of southern Arizona
Mountains near Lake Mead at sunset, aerial, Arizona, Steve Bruno
Mountains near Lake Mead at sunset
Desert ridges by stormlight outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, Steve Bruno
Desert ridges by stormlight outside of Las Vegas
Wash patterns, northwestern New Mexico, Steve Bruno
Wash patterns, northwestern New Mexico
Craters Near Flagstaff, Arizona, aerial, Steve Bruno
Craters Near Flagstaff
Desert Dunes near Death Valley, aerial, Steve Bruno
Desert and dunes near Death Valley

WPC: Earth

Earth.  Our one and only home.  Forget about going boldly where no one has gone before, this is it.  Even if we were to find another suitable planet for our existence, history suggests we would strip it of its resources and fight over who gets to claim ownership.

Many civilizations have proven it’s possible to live within the means of the local environment, but our modern society has created demands which leave tremendous scars on our planet.  Forest clearcutting and strip mining would be major examples of this.  Copper, a material we have made essential to our way of living, does not exist in large, solid masses, so can only be extracted through the process of strip mining.

For this week’s challenge, I could have chosen one of many images which I feel portray the special qualities and beauty of this planet. I kept coming back to this one, however.  Earth has this magical quality of rejuvenation, and after we have vanished, will reclaim itself.

This is my hands-down favorite image ever taken from an airplane.  On an early morning flight into Salt Lake City, we passed the Kennecott open pit mine.  After copper is exposed, the oxidation process turns it into a complexity of colors.  This should have been a blight on the land, but all I can see is beauty in this shot.

Need a frame of reference?  Along the line extending to the upper right corner, you will see four dots.  Each of those is a truck capable of moving hundreds of tons of dirt, and having tires that are taller than a semi-trailer.

Window Seat V: Sunset From 30,000 feet

On my flight to Seattle last November I captured one of my favorite images ever from the air. The return flight looked as though there would be nothing to see, because cloud cover had moved into the Pacific northwest just before my departure.  Somewhere around northwestern Nevada, the clouds started to break, and a little bit of color hit the far eastern horizon.  If I had been on the ground and seen these clouds, I would have thought there were some powerful winds aloft.  Our flight was as calm as could be, and I was glad to take a single shot on the return journey.

But this turned out to be just the start.  We had now passed the edge of the cloud layer and the color was getting stronger.  Mountains on the desert floor were beginning to glow as the eastern horizon lit up more before eventually darkening.  The light seemed to go on forever, and the time stamps on my images show that from the top shot to my last was over 15 minutes.Airplane Seattle to Las Vegas 02 - Steve BrunoAirplane Seattle to Las Vegas 03 - Steve BrunoAirplane Seattle to Las Vegas 04 - Steve Bruno

Window Seat IV – Storm Front Sierra Nevada

The territory covered on the flight from Las Vegas to Seattle can be quite spectacular, and my recent trip along this route coincided with the arrival of a storm front that allowed me to capture some of my favorite images ever from the air.  We had passed Death Valley and still hadn’t reached full altitude when we came across this scene.  I probably would have been thrilled to be on the ground for this one, especially if I were close to one of the snow-capped ridges in the distant range.  Stepping back and seeing the whole picture can be good once in a while, and in this case, seeing below the clouds and the top of the approaching front made for a unique perspective I was glad I was able to photograph.

Window Seat III – Above The Clouds

When I’m flying, I spend most of the time with my eyes peering out the window, fixated on the shapes of the landscape only available through an aerial perspective.  Every once in a while, it’s the clouds, not the land that captures my attention.

The photo above, was taken over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  In the absence of any features of the land, the shadows of the clouds stretched uninterrupted across the open water in the late afternoon.

Also in a late afternoon setting, the plane had turned perpendicular to the line of the sun, allowing for this lighting pattern on the top of the cloud layer. I’ve seen this effect on takeoffs and landings emerging through low clouds, but not from this height.

Sunburst pattern on top of cloud layer. Photo by Steve Bruno.

Then there are the occasions when cloud layers become prominent, creating a depth as rich as any landscape.

Florida Clouds
Multiple layers of clouds off the coast of Florida. Photo by Steve Bruno.


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