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All Time Favorites

I’ve been crazy busy lately, so I’m trying to get caught up here.  In the final installment of the Daily Post Photo Challenge, they put up the topic of All-Time Favorites.  While I have posted some favorites before, these are mostly new to my blog.  I purchased my first real camera over 40 years ago, and moved into large format 5 years after that.  I have some favorites from way back then, and some that have made the ranks within the last year.  Choosing definitive favorites throughout the collection would be impossible, so here are a few from the top of my lists in various categories.

Living in the desert, flowers are a limited subject for me.  The top photo comes from the North Rainbow Trail along the Arizona-Utah border.  We had just dropped into a canyon whose entire bottom was layers of sandstone, when I spotted several Indian Paintbrush in bloom.  Who needs soil anyway?

One of the difficulties in photographing poppies is that they open up when the sun is stronger, then close by the end of the day.  Secondly, they appear in surroundings that are often not very photogenic.  Then, if those two come together, there’s the third variable of decent light.  I think I hit the trifecta when I photographed these poppies in the late afternoon, below a saguaro cactus studded hillside in the desert east of Phoenix, Arizona.  Just as I was setting up, a thin wave of clouds moved in as though someone were pulling a fine lace curtain over the desert.

Saguaro, cactus, poppies, Arizona, desert, spring flowers, Steve Bruno

Although I’m partial to the desert, my travels have not been limited to the warmer regions.  Anyone who has been to the Rocky Mountains in summer knows that you can almost set your watch by the afternoon thunderstorms.  On this mostly clear day, somewhere south of Telluride, I captured this favorite mountain scene as the sun was getting low.

Telluride, Colorado, Rocky Mountains, forest, mountains, Steve Bruno, landscape photography

While the desert does contain a few, there are better chances of finding waterfalls in the mountains.  I think I always had a special place for this one because it was the first time I was able to get behind the falls without getting a wet lens.  Oh, and the light is pretty good, too!  From Rifle Falls, Colorado.

Rifle Falls, Colorado, waterfall, Rocky Mountains, gottatakemorepix

Another place having thunderstorms with clocklike predictability is southeastern Arizona.  While spending a couple very wet afternoons on Mount Graham, I woke up very early the last morning to capture the sunrise coming up over a fog-filled Safford Valley.  I have seen hundreds of sunrises and sunsets from beautiful locations, but this one still ranks high.

sunrise, sunset, mountains, Arizona, Steve Bruno, landscape photography

Seeing mountains from an aerial perspective can be breathtaking, but often too distant to see great detail.  However, mountains and commercial airplanes in close proximity is a bad thing.  Many routes out of Seattle pass close to Mount Rainier.  I was fortunate on this almost cloud free winter Seattle day (yes that sounds like an oxymoron) to capture one of my favorites from an airplane.

Mount Rainier, Washington, National Park, aerial photography, Steve Bruno

While many tend to think of Arizona as hot and dry, there are a few riparian zone gems to be found.  One of them, West Clear Creek, is a photographer’s paradise, as well as a great place to escape the heat.  This is one of my favorites for reflections, and pretty high on the list for canyon photographs.

West Clear Creek, Mogollon Rim, Arizona, reflection, Steve Bruno

The reason it could not take top honors for canyon favorites is because of the next place.  I have hundreds of Grand Canyon photos from various trips, and have seen many different faces that it puts on, but there’s nothing like being in the bottom and really appreciating its scale.

Grand Canyon, National Park, Arizona, Colorado River, Marble Canyon, Steve Bruno

Water in the desert is special, but certainly not the norm.  The counterpart to creeks and rivers would probably have to be sand dunes.  This is truly impossible to pick a favorite, so here is one I have posted before.  From Death Valley at sunrise, I have never seen arcing ridges like these at other dunes I have visited.

sand dunes, Death Valley, National Park, California, desert, sunrise, landscape photography

Q:  When is a wave not made of water, sound or light?  (No, it’s not one of The Riddlers questions for Batman)

A:  When it’s an illusion made of sand at my feet in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.  While hiking in a remote part of the park following a flood, the higher ground had dried while the area that had a deeper pool was still damp.  Abstracts are one of my favorite subjects, and this one definitely tops the list.

Valley Of Fire, wave, sand, abstract, Steve Bruno

I’m always looking for detail shots of nature that just show how delicate and beautiful the world can be.  This photo didn’t have any runner-ups to compete with on my list.  Also from Valley of Fire, I simply call this one “Layers”

Valley Of Fire, State Park, Nevada, sandstone, red rock, gottatakemorepix

Despite all the time I’ve spent photographing nature, with many great days, I have one that I still refer to as best day ever.  I left Las Vegas around 3 in the morning to head to Zion National Park.  I arrived just in time to get a glimpse of sunrise hitting the freshly snow covered mountains.  Once I started photographing, there was something to capture my attention around every corner.  Despite great light in the middle of the day, I had to force myself to go down to Springdale for some lunch before returning to keep clicking all the way until the sun went down.  I don’t think there were more than 20 people in the park all day long, and the rangers said they had never seen that much snow before.  Somehow, with the lack of people, I came across one scene that was up about two miles along a trail that someone had walked in the middle of for no apparent reason.  It was the most surreal image I had seen that day, and I was cringing because someone walked through it.  This was slightly pre-Photoshop, and if I had any idea of the changes that were about to happen, I would have captured that image and waited for technology to catch up.  I have no “outtakes” from that day.  If I had a digital camera, I can only imagine the volume of images I would have taken.  Perhaps it was the time-consumption of each setting with a large format camera that placed me in the right moment as I approached the next location at the perfect time.  One of my early morning shots made a cover of a national magazine, but the truth is they’re all favorites, so here’s one the world hasn’t necessarily seen yet.

Zion, National Park, Utah, winter, landscape photography, Steve Bruno

Monochrome Madness: MM4-32

As we approach winter in the northern hemisphere, scenes like this should be common.  Instead, the nightly news talks about fires in California, and how the firefighters will be on the job until Christmas, and now perhaps until New Year’s Day.  Here’s hoping for rain and snow soon for our neighbors in California.

This image is from the Mammoth region of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and 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.

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.

Monochrome Madness: MM3-51

As spring transitions towards summer, cold fronts still pass through the desert, but they rarely contain significant moisture.  They always bring a little breeze, and sometimes, a lot.  A couple weeks ago we had wind gusts in the 70-80 mph range, and there’s never enough moisture to hold down the sand and dust when those fronts come through.  Usually this is landscape photography hell, but if you happen to be in the right spot, you can turn it into opportunity.

My photo was taken in the desert of southern California during one of these spring fronts, and is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness.  Instructions on how to participate, and the contributions of others can be found on her site.

WPC: New Horizon

Nature’s

Evolving

Windswept

Horizon

Occasionally

Reveals

Infinite

Zigzags

Organized

Nightly

WPC: Edge

The Daily Post Challenge this week is Edge, and the first thing that came to mind was waterfalls going over the edge, but I haven’t come across too many that allow getting to this angle safely.

Lake Powell in southern Utah has more shoreline than the Pacific Ocean along the continental US.  In this early morning photo you can see the shoreline’s sinuous edges.

Lake Powell, Utah, shoreline, sunrise, Steve Bruno , gottatakemorepix

Sand dunes sometimes have well defined edges, such as this one shown here from Death Valley National Park, California.

Death Valley National Park, sand dunes, sunrise, Steve Bruno - gottatakemorepix

These massive boulders are hanging over the edge of a cliff along the drive up Mount Lemmon, just outside of Tucson, Arizona.

Mount Lemmon, Tucson, Arizona, rock formations, Steve Bruno, gottatakemorepix

There are few canyons in the desert southwest as impressive as Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly.  Spider Rock, shown here at the edge of darkness, can only be seen by walking to the edge of the canyon.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona - Steve Bruno - gottatakemorepix

WPC: Half-Light

The Daily Post Challenge of Half-Light seemed like an easy one to find an image for.  The time between sunset and darkness (and darkness to sunrise) offers some of the best opportunity for great photographs.  But a poem, verse, song lyric to go along with that photograph?

Fortunately I had the album “Machine Head” by the group Deep Purple as one of my favorite albums growing up.  The band’s most well-known song is on that album, but one song which always stuck with me probably never got any airplay.  I’m sure I had the cassette tape/CD playing on some trips to mountainous regions, and it still makes me think of places like this. ^

The song is called “Pictures of Home” and the lyrics go like this:

lyrics.jpg

Monochrome Madness: MM2-50

In California’s Death Valley National Park, the most accessed and photographed sections are in the southern end of the park.  This is where you will find Zabriskie Point, and Golden Canyon, among other features.  As Golden Canyon’s name suggests, color photography can have quite a saturated pop here, but I find that the area has a lot of detail and depth that shows off even more in black & white.  This shot is included in Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week, where you can see other b&w images from contributing photographers.

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.

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