Steve Bruno Photo



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

WPC: Peek

Earlier this year, I headed out to capture the sunrise at nearby Red Rock Canyon.  I knew a storm front was moving in, and after hiking to reach this spot, it looked as though it might be a day without photos.  Right at sunrise, the sun peeked through a tiny slice of an opening in the clouds.  This lasted for about a minute, and the not-so-distant cliffs in the background (which I had hoped to capture that morning) never fully saw the sun.

WPC: Resilient

This is a very resilient world we live in, and the desert has many examples of that.  When I saw this week’s challenge, one of the first places I thought of was the White Rim in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.  It’s hard to fathom the resiliency in this pillar of sandstone which remains standing while everything around it has eroded away.  This formation was once part of a long isolated wall similar to those in the background, yet still standing after many thousands (or perhaps millions) of years.

WPC: New Horizon











WPC: Morning

As I developed as a photographer, it was evident that I was becoming more of a morning person.  Part of this was due to the fact that I was living in the desert, and hiking and just being outdoors were limited to mornings on many summer days.  When I say morning, I really mean from an hour before sunrise to about an hour after sunrise.  That’s when the light can be truly amazing.

As I started travelling to the National Parks and other highly popular areas, I really appreciated the diminished (and sometimes lack of) crowds first thing in the morning.  I can understand being on vacation and wanting to sleep in, just not if you’re a photographer.

That brings me to my photos for this week’s challenge.  I was on vacation in Hawaii with quite a few family members.  We had been to this spot the day before, and I just looked at everything and knew I had to come back for a sunrise.  Upon returning to our rooms, I said, “I’m going back there first thing in the morning, who wants to join me?”  As I expected the answer was pretty much silence.

I arrived at the parking area just before sunrise and took a couple shots before hitting the trail.  It was a fairly short trail which descended a couple hundred feet to the beach.  It was a very relaxing, almost meditative, morning on a beautiful black sand beach.  About an hour later another person came down the trail, and by that time I was ready to head back.

Hawaii SunriseHawaii Oceanside Cliffs at SunriseHawaii Black Sand Beach Tide

I generally don’t like to wake to an alarm clock, but for occasions like this, I am glad to make exceptions.

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:


Mid-week Mixings: Back To The Backyard

Not my backyard.  More like backyard to the city of Las Vegas.  But close enough that I refer to it as my backyard, and a favorite spot to get out and take photos, even if I don’t manage to get very far from the car.

Earlier this month I had a morning that I was able to get away.  A storm had dusted the higher elevations with some snow, and as I waited for the sunrise to give the cliffs a red glow, I watched the clouds dropping onto the cliffs behind me and moving in.

Red Rock 01 - Steve Bruno
Approaching sunrise at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. Photo by Steve Bruno.

After I took the above shot, I was feeling many semi-frozen drops of water, so I headed down the road a short stretch, in between bands of lowering clouds.  I missed one very exquisite lighting opportunity, as the slush drops started hitting the ground before I could get to my location.  That brief bit of weather passed, and it remained mostly dry long enough for me to find a couple more settings for photos.

I then returned to where I started the morning, as the clouds seemed to have hit a barrier there, and just lingered on the cliffs without lowering any further.

Life’s A Beach

Last week I was in Florida again, and I had some time to try to capture images of the ocean.  In many parts of the world, there are rock formations in the water or dramatic cliff backdrops, which offer more options for composition.  The lack of any terrain made for more challenge, and the texture of the water became my primary focus.

In the top image, I converted it to b&w, and was mildly pleased with the result, but then decided to return the sky back to color in a new layer. I did make some minor cooling filter adjustments to the layer.  I was about to remove the ship because I didn’t feel it was close enough to add to the scene, but then decided to leave it for its sense of scale.

I am often intrigued by other photographer’s shots of powerful waves crashing explosively into rocky shorelines, but I never knew there could also be interesting detail in a one foot high wave breaking onto a sandy beach.  I’ve spent a lot of time using slow film in low light situations where blurred water results were common by default.   A fast lens/high shutter speed combination allowed for detailed captures, and is something I will look for more often in future photo shoots.

There was a significant amount of human activity, as one would expect.  One morning, this paraboarder was getting his workout, making several passes along the beach in front of me.  As I took one sequence of shots, a plane was taking off from the airport behind him.  Around the same time, a tractor was making a clean sweep of the beach.  The ocean is always busy churning out its natural waste, which doesn’t make for postcard beaches!

In the end, the shots I liked the most occurred where there was texture on the wet sand or in the rolling water.  One thing that doesn’t show up in the photos is the abundant humidity.  The sea breeze made it enjoyable, but anywhere away from that was not pleasant.  I’m very glad to be back in the desert now.

Wordless Wednesday: Minnesota Sunrise

Minnesota Sunrise

WPC: Half and Half

Sunrise from the Hawaiian island of O'ahu by Steve Bruno
Sunrise from the Hawaiian island of O’ahu by Steve Bruno

The challenge this week is half-and-half, and as I was looking through my photos I came across some lake shots. Those were mostly reflections, not two halves.  Then I came across this one, half water (with some rock), half sky.  This was sunrise from the island of O’ahu.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Half and Half.”

WPC: Early Bird – Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

To this day, this remains the most spectacular sky I have ever seen in Las Vegas, and certainly a top five anywhere. Unlike most photos where we only get to see a snippet of what’s happening, this sky had a similar appearance as far as I could see.

When I’m on the road, it’s a given that I will get up early to try to get the best light for my subject. This was in my backyard, relatively speaking. I had watched the weather segment on the news the previous night, and the timing of an approaching front looked as though it might coincide with sunrise, so I set my alarm.  I drove out to nearby Red Rock Canyon, and well before the sun hit the horizon, I knew it was going to be incredible. The clouds were consistent, and not very low, so the color just came through in waves as the sun started to hit the horizon. It is the only time I’ve had friends call me later in the day to see if I was out there capturing the sunrise.  Apparently, it was like a red beacon coming into everybody’s home in Las Vegas.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Early Bird.”

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