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Monochrome Madness: MM 204

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.

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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.

flight

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.

moonbow

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Rain or Rainbows

Monochrome Madness: MM 198

Life in the desert moves at a slow pace.  Without much water, growth is slow, and subsequently, so is death.  This dying cholla cactus appears to have marked its own grave, but will eventually succumb to the elements and gravity.  The younger, healthier ones (right portion of frame) are bright yellow or green and are easy to notice and avoid.  During their life, they eventually drop several sections.  In the course of time those begin to camouflage themselves, browning to match the stones beneath, and still just as painful.  Walking through a dense cholla forest is like navigating a minefield.  If you manage to get too close to one, you will swear you have been bitten by something.

For Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness: MM 198

Monochrome Madness: MM3-48

Spring has made it here, and it almost felt like we were going to jump right to summer.  Fortunately, temperatures have returned to normal, and we can go out and enjoy the flowers which have made their presence as a result of decent winter rains.  The cacti are usually the last to bloom, and it doesn’t matter to them if there was rain or not.

This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  Instructions on how to participate, and the contributions of others can be found on her website.

Monochrome Madness: MM3-28

A couple days ago, I was visiting my mom, and couldn’t help notice she had a couple cacti in bloom in her yard.  Seemed out of place for late October, but it has been warm, and I’m sure she waters them from time to time.  One flower was within reach and photogenic, but I wanted a different approach.  There was no way for me to get behind this one, so I shot it like a selfie.  In a couple frames it was a selfie.  I was composing by just looking at the shadow of the flower across the lens, then realized I had to duck while maintaining the composition.  I suppose I could have set up a wireless card and a tablet, but that seemed like too much effort.  I got this shot without having to delete a bunch.

This is the photo that Leanne Cole has placed on this week’s Monochrome Madness.  You can check out her website to see other’s contributions and instructions to join in.

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.

Sunday Stills, the next challenge: yellow or wildflowers

I was down in Arizona this week, and while the early flowers have succumbed to the heat, the cactus are now beginning to show. And, as it turns out, there’s a little bit of yellow in this one.

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