Steve Bruno Photo



Monochrome Madness: MM 201

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.

Monochrome Madness: MM 200

As the fog became thicker last Sunday, I knew these images were meant to be in b&w.  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.

WPC: Story

“Get along little doggie!”

Or in this case, coyote.  At least that’s my best guess after an online search.  My first impression was bobcat tracks, but those turned out to be much different in shape.  This photo alone might be enough for a story, but yesterday turned out to be too good of a day to stop there.


The initial weather forecast called for the storm to be out of here before noon on Sunday.  I set my alarm, but then rechecked the forecast one more time.  The official weather station on Mount Charleston was at 37 degrees, and the satellite image gave me the impression the event was moving out quicker.  With that in mind, I changed the alarm to an earlier time, thinking the sunrise might be spectacular.  Upon shutting the alarm off and falling back to sleep, I awoke closer to my original plan, and decided there might still be some something worthwhile to photograph.  This just meant I would be joining all the weekend warriors.

As we headed up the mountain, we began to drive through a low cloud cover.  Even the tailgaters eased off as visibility became very limited.  Just before approaching the ski area, we emerged with a clear view.  I pulled off to the side of the road, as the freshly coated Mummy Mountain had great light hitting it.  In the time it took for me to cross the road and open up my tripod, the light was gone.  The fog we had driven through was racing up the mountainside.  Little did I know at the time that this was the last bit of blue sky I would see for the day.  That’s Mummy Mountain’s outline in the upper left corner.

Mummy Mountain, Lee Canyon, Spring Mountains, Nevada

Although I was a little disappointed, this was the view everyone else was getting, and I came out to hike a trail I’ve been on several times before – one that would take me up into the snow and the bristlecone pines.  When I reached the parking area, there was a vehicle with three young men already returning.  I was still reasonably early, and it wasn’t long before their tracks were no longer visible, and my feet were laying down the only marks in the snow.  This desert dweller hasn’t been in the altitude much lately, and my stops were numerous.  Taking photos was a good excuse to lengthen my stops, because I know I can’t take a steady picture without a tripod when I’m breathing that hard.  Especially detail shots with a telephoto lens.

fresh snow, forest, gottatakemorepix

fresh snow, fog, mountains, Nevada, gottatakemorepix

The fog was varying in its density, and with each thinning stage, I thought that was going to be it.  The trail started around 8300 feet, and I knew I was up over 9000 feet.  The temps were too warm for the snow, and I could see clumps falling off branches all around me.  That’s when I came across the tracks.  Fortunately my lingering photographer’s pace was allowing other hikers to catch up to me on the trail, many with big dogs, and I knew my chances of becoming breakfast were diminishing.  In this area were many trees with intriguing shapes, standing eerily in the fog.  I took numerous shots in this area, then continued.  In a short time I arrived at the largest bristlecone pine on the trail, perhaps the largest I have ever seen.  Around this time the sun became visible, although the fog was still there.  I don’t think I have ever seen this tree under more perfect conditions.

giant tree, fog, bristlecone pine, Spring Mountains, Las Vegas, Steve Bruno photography

I continued along to an area I have stopped before. The fog gave this group a different light than any previous visit.

forest, Mount Charleston, Nevada, Steve Bruno

I tried continuing further, but this part of the trail, now around 9500 feet, had a little deeper snowfall.  And a steeper pitch with a slight sideways pitch.  That was becoming too much work without spikes under my shoes, so I headed back.  This turned out to be excellent timing, as the fog was making a comeback.  The trail was getting slippery and/or muddy in spots, I was starting to feel the fatigue of mountain air.  I could barely see the forest in the canyon right in front of me.

dense fog, trees

I made one final stop, and as I did the fog was now leaving many microdrops on my camera, though not my lens.  Those made for some excellent b&w images which I will post soon.  It was close to 2:00 when I finished, and the conditions were not what I was anticipating, but certainly made for an awesome day.

Monochrome Madness: MM4-28

Last week I was back in the Pacific Northwest, although I did not see any conditions like this again.  This was from a couple years ago, when there was fog in very cold conditions.  Ice coated all the vegetation, but not the roads – conditions I could photograph in all the time if it happened that way!

This was my entry in Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness last week.  Running a little late with a lot of travel taking place.

Monochrome Madness: MM3-36

Seasons Greetings to everyone!

This week’s Monochrome Madness photo comes from the state of Washington, and some unusual winter conditions for the rest of the country.  My rental car had a temperature gauge which indicated that it was 24 degrees outside.  At the same time there was moderate fog in the air.  All that moisture was freezing on the trees and bushes, but not the road.  As the sun started to move higher in the sky, it did start to melt the fine ice coating, but I had at least an hour of photographing with these amazing conditions.

This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  You can find the work of other bloggers on her website, as well as instructions on how to join in.

WPC: Inspiration

Like many others on WordPress, I find inspiration in nature.  It’s the reason I venture out for hikes and the chance to take photographs.  But whether I’m in the city or the great outdoors, it’s the light that inspires me to press the shutter.  Light is the key element to make or break a photograph.  Take this photo, for example.  Had I been there 15 minutes earlier or later, would I have seen similar lighting?  If there was no fog to enhance the sunlight streaming through the trees, would I have stopped?  I look for lighting, as well the subject, often nature, to inspire me to take photographs.

Seating for hundreds, but only one in the audience

I had several photographs that I considered posting for the ‘ephemeral’ challenge, and this was one of the runner-ups. Besides, it has a story. I’ve spent many days at the Grand Canyon. Months, if you tallied them all up. This was the most spectacular morning I have ever seen there, and this image was my reward for waiting it out.

The Grand Canyon has inversions, about once every several years according to the National Park Service. On those occasions, the whole thing fills with fog and lasts a while and doesn’t offer much of a view into the canyon. This wasn’t one of those events, but in a single still frame it may appear that way.

This morning started like any other. I got up at dark o’clock, crawled out of the sleeping bag, put on appropriate clothing and started my truck (my home on wheels at times). My sleep had been interrupted several times through the night by thunderstorms. Just when I thought they couldn’t get any worse, they did. I was camped in familiar territory in the National Forest outside the park boundary because it is a quiet spot – from people, anyway.

Cape Royal is the last stop on the North Rim Drive. It is only a couple miles away from the North Rim Village as the crow flies, but twenty-something miles for those of us in a vehicle. As I walked out to the point the sky had become less black, and I could see that there was potentially going to be a window in the clouds for the sun to make a grand entrance. The air was still wet, but it wasn’t raining. It was more like the wind was sucking away raindrops from the storms that were a couple miles away to the west, right about where the village and my campsite were. Meteorologists have a term for this, they call it ‘training’. One strong thunderstorm rolls through and sets up a favorable environment for others to follow. I think this one had four engines, because the caboose was nowhere in sight.

This was still the film era. There were no weather seals on my 4×5 camera, and those errant raindrops weren’t going away. As sunrise was getting near, I could see that the opening in the clouds was still there, but if the sun came through it was probably going to be muted. The overall look was still very gray and hazy. The thing that struck me as odd was the lack of people. The parking lot has room for over a hundred vehicles and I’ve seen it full, especially at sunset. Cape Royal is a great spot anytime because of its sweeping view and options for photographs.

Commence act one. The skies in my proximity were ugly, but the sun streamed across the Painted Desert with no obstructions. I was cringing. Raindrops were still drifting in from the west, and as long as that was happening, I couldn’t get a shot. As the sun hit them, they produced a full distinct double rainbow in a purple sky. It was absolutely insane looking! The spectacle lasted for at least five minutes before the color started to shift, and the spectrum became less intense. After another five minutes, the sun slid into the lip of the cloud cover and act two of the show began. All the cliffs below me were wet and glowing from the early morning sun. The colors were more intense than I had ever seen there. Rainwater pockets on all the mesa tops glistened like topaz crystals were strewn about, and I still wasn’t getting any shots. Neither was anybody else, because there still was nobody else.

Act two wrapped up and I wasn’t sure there was going to be an act three. It was back to being ugly gray with no more potential windows visible. But the air had dried out. Now? Really? I was so frustrated at the timing of it all. I knew I had witnessed a special morning there but had nothing to show for it. I headed back to my vehicle for some breakfast. Intermission, as I like to call it. Nothing to do but wait out the morning, and the vantage point from Cape Royal was the perfect place to catch any indication of a change in the light. The smell of rain-soaked sage and pine filled the air, I still had the place to myself, and the peacefulness of it all was refreshing.

Breakfast was over, and the sun started to win its battle against the clouds, making it brighter and warmer. I grabbed my camera and headed back out to the point. Enter act three. All that moisture below needed to escape into the atmosphere, and that warm late-summer sun was hitting stride. Slowly, little patches of fog began to congregate below me. There didn’t appear to be any more threat of raindrops, so I had my camera on its tripod. Despite it being well past sunrise, the colors were getting better. I began capturing images as the collection of cloudlets was gaining strength. Finally, as one big mass, they begin to lift, and roll across the mesa immediately below me. I was using a panoramic roll film back and clicking as fast as that camera would allow. The entire process would have been a spectacular time-lapse film clip, but I was glad to be capturing images at last. Then, almost as quickly as it came together, it all broke back into fragments and was dissipating. I was packing my camera up as I heard an enthusiastic voice on the rocks above me. “Hey, come see this!” the first of the sleeping villagers beckoned to the others. I felt like yelling out, “Show’s over – you missed it!”

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