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Sunday Gratitude

“Whatcha’ cooking, honey?”

“Oh nothing…..just the planet!”

This petroglyph deep in the middle of the Navajo Reservation always intrigued me.  Very few non-native people have been to this location, and I feel fortunate to have witnessed the land and its people.  My interpretation of this rock art has always been that the planet was being cooked.  Did our previous culture know what mankind was about to do to the planet?

It seemed just a short time ago that it was only Al Gore and a handful of scientists warning us of global warming and the actions we needed to take to reverse this trend.  Even if Washington DC and large corporations still behave as though we’re living a century ago, large numbers of people have taken to the streets to demand change.  There are many cities throughout the US that have adopted clean energy policies, and society’s awakening gives me a feeling of gratitude.

Midweek Monochrome 10-2-19

Cooler weather has made its way to the desert, and soon it will be time to start climbing around these sandstone hills again.  This unique perspective of Red Rock Canyon is a panorama stitched from four frames.  I was always pleased with the way it came together, but just recently tried converting it to b&w, and I think I like this outcome better.

Midweek Monochrome 9-25-19

I made a return to the upper Midwest last week, and although I didn’t have time to explore the region, being there was enough to make me wish the trip was planned a little differently.  The photo is from a previous visit, from one of Minnesota’s State Parks.  Although I make my home in the desert, and love it, the area around Lake Superior still ranks very high on my list of extraordinarily beautiful places in the US.  If I could only put up with the winter…..

Midweek Monochrome 9-18-19

Slot canyons are amazing places in the way water can cut so deeply and intricately without removing the materials further out and above.  They are also great places to hang out when the temperatures are soaring.  Fortunately, we are heading into fall, and the relief factor is yielding to the fun of just exploring the desert.  This week’s photo comes from Cathedral Gorge State Park in eastern Nevada.  Unlike slot canyons in sandstone, these crevices don’t run very long, and are so narrow you have to side-step in a couple places to get through.

Midweek Monochrome 9-11-19

September 23rd marks the first day of autumn this year, but that is normally an irrelevant day in this part of the US.  This morning I had the air-conditioning turned off and the doors open for the first time in a while, so perhaps this season will be different.  I read a few months ago that the El Nino currents were still in place, which would account for a lack of a summer monsoon season.  Another wet winter and spring would certainly be welcome, especially if followed by another spectacular wildflower season.

The cooler air also means we’ve made it through the worst of forest fire season.  Our forests have been spared from significant sized fires.  Surprisingly, of all places, the worst one this season was in southern Arizona.  The Woodbury Fire lasted for about a month and consumed over 120,000 acres.  Rugged terrain, inaccessibility, and summer heat were the contributing factors keeping that one from being extinguished quickly.

My closest mountain retreat, pictured above, did not have to deal with closures or fires this summer.  Every autumn, I keep feeling like we just made it through another round of Russian Roulette.  So many dry years, and just enough careless people visiting the forests push the odds in favor of the fires.  Let’s hope for a few more El Nino winters.

Midweek Monochrome 8-28-19

I find that many photogenic boulder locations tend to be in lower deserts here in the southwest.  Joshua Tree National Park comes to mind when I see what other photographers like to cover.  The boulders there may receive more attention than the tree the park is named for.  There are much better Joshua Trees to see than the ones there, so I completely get this one.

The subjects of my photo come from the cooler, higher elevations of Prescott National Forest in central Arizona.  The tree at the back is what caught my attention here.  It provides a nice contrast and an element of scale for these massive rocks.  The clouds drifting into the frame completed the scene for me.

Springtime In The (Red) Rockies

A wetter than usual winter has been a welcome sight for the southwestern US.  Although many flocked to California to trample the flowers there, the bouquet has been continuing through the higher elevations.  Red Rock Canyon has seen some small plants flowering, but I was amazed at all the redbud trees in bloom, and consider that the main attraction around here.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’ve had a backlog of projects that needed to be taken care of, and additional time sitting at a computer has been counterproductive to that.  I’ll have a little more time for this now.

spring flowers, red rock canyon, nevada, hiking

red rock canyon, nevada, spring flowers

tree, spring, flowers, nevada

flowers, tree, desert, Stevew Bruno

redbud, trees, flowers, red rock canyon, Nevada

desert, Nevada, flowers

red rock, Nevada, bloom, Steve Bruno

Steve Bruno, red rock canyon, nevada, redbud, flowers

Finally…A Little Fresh Air

Recently, I had a chance to get out to our closest high elevation hiking spot.  A friend had wanted to get away from the heat, and as with most people I know, didn’t want to to a hike on ‘photographer’s hours’.  With that in mind, I wasn’t going to bring a camera, just my phone.  Then I remembered the last time I did that, and we encountered butterflies and tiny flowers, so I packed my older smaller sensor camera and macro lens.  That’s my idea of keeping it light.

The trail started around 8000 feet, and some of the trees down there had something I had never noticed before.  Coming off the leaves was a thread-like material, covered with fine hairs.  Most of these had a pigtail kind of curve to them, and their lighter color glowed in the backlight.  My first shot of the day is actually one of my favorites.

fine art, tree, sunshine, abstract, steve bruno

Even though these trees were present further up, the threads were not as abundant on those trees.  I think I need to spend more time in this forest to notice the details of seasonal changes.

nature, tree, detail, forest, steve bruno

The photo at the top of this post was taken near the top of the trail.  With my smaller sensor camera I don’t have an extreme wide angle lens, so this was a composite of 10 frames.  We had started out with clear skies, but these timely clouds came passing through, looking more like fall than summer.

We arrived at the end point of one trail, then continued partway on another.  I was wanting to see if the springs were still there after so many dry years.  Just before the springs we found ourselves in the midst of the forest affected by the Carpenter 1 fire which happened in 2013.  Although signs of recovery were evident, these trees will not be coming back, and the eerie feeling remains.

forest fire, trees, nevada

If there’s a positive side to not being in great shape anymore, it’s that the hike took long enough so that we finished with late afternoon light.  Often this is the time of day i would start a hike with photos in mind.  The young aspens were a stark contrast to the trees consumed by fire higher up.

aspen trees, summer, mountains, nevada, landscape photography

The cliffs in the lower part of the trail were beginning to get the glow of reflected light.  The trees here are generally tall, but I couldn’t help but notice there was a giant amongst them.

Mount Charleston, nevada, forest, hiking, fine art, landscape photography,

In addition to better quality of light, late afternoon usually brings out the wildlife.  This young deer showed up trailside in the last half mile, but really wanted nothing to do with me.  There was a significant barrier of shrubs between us, and the one moment I had a clear view, it moved out quickly, so I only got a parting shot.

deer, wildlife, forest, nevada

It’s been a busy summer, and when work has slowed down, I’ve been catching up on lots of backlogged projects.  We’ve had some of the worst looking skies I can ever remember here in southern Nevada, and we haven’t had any fires to speak of.  We’ve had dust blowing in from storms in Arizona, but mostly the smoke from California’s fires.  Most of the big fires throughout the west in the last few years have been human caused.  I’d like to believe that Nevadans are smarter and more respectful of the environment, but the law of averages tells me that stupid people show up everywhere.  I think because we are not a glamorous outdoor destination like our surrounding states, we luck out by getting less people overall.  That’s OK…..more for us to enjoy!

Monochrome Madness: MM 209

No matter what the temperature, I will rarely head out to take photographs if there are cloudless skies.  Sometimes clouds just add an element to the skies that reduce the sterility of the scene.  They always reflect light, and usually soften the light to some degree.  When the clouds are thick enough, they can provide a natural light painting to a landscape that cannot be duplicated in post-processing.  In the photograph above, a little bit of direct sunlight was hitting the cliffs in the middle-ground, while some filtered light was reaching a little further back to highlight the ridgelines.  Heavy clouds were lingering beyond, making for a dark mood in the back of the canyon.  I also had a brief cloud darken the foreground, helping to bring the attention to the cliffs.  I never would have pressed the shutter had this been a sunny day.

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.

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