Working with some older files recently, this image struck me as one that I needed to convert to black & white. Even in subdued light, the natural contrast of the fungus against the pine bark had to be toned down slightly. This was taken in the forests of eastern Arizona.
A couple weeks ago, I was driving through the desert of western Arizona. The clouds were quickly changing and various degrees of light and shade were trading places upon the landscape. I wish I could have set up a tripod for time-lapse video, but by the time I walked to this spot, all the good stuff was gone in about a minute.
Finding running water around here is getting tougher, but there are some places that always come through. A normal water level here would be covering most of those rocks, and the algae has dried to leave a crusty white cap. I’m learning to make the best of cloudless skies, as that appears to be the trend this winter.
As with last week’s post, I’m sharing an image of some place cool and wet until summer goes away. The weather people have put some obscenely low numbers in the long-range forecast, but then they tried that a couple weeks ago. As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…..not gonna happen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I am always intrigued by desert plants and how they grow and bloom. The agave (above) grows from a tightly packed center. As the leaves peel outward, they retain the lines of the leaves they grew adjacent to. The plants provides great lines and textures and photograph well from many angles, but I always liked this one showing the core.
Bolts of lightning always leave fascinating lines, whether a single strike, or a multitude. This was probably the most potent and tightly concentrated thunderstorm I ever photographed.
Another weather situation that can provide great lines to photograph are icicles.
I’m always looking for trees to photograph, mostly based on their lines and the shapes they create.
Sometimes, I don’t even have to look upward to see the photograph I want from a tree. Ponderosa pines are one of many types of trees with great bark patterns.
I find that landscape photographs are often best when there are lines that take you through the frame. The southwestern US has many locations with powerful lines.
The canyons near Escalante, Utah streaked with desert varnish, or the twisted sandstone of the Vermillion Cliffs are just two examples of that.
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.
My photo for this week’s Monochrome Madness comes from the closest forest to my home, on Mount Charleston. Australian photographer Leanne Cole hosts this event, and at the start of every month there is a theme week. In September, it was trees. I had several images for that category, and this was one that I didn’t include back then. My schedule became very hectic for a couple weeks, and I didn’t post my photo on my blog, even though you can see it on Leanne’s site.
Next week will be have the theme of in the open. If you’d like to participate, you can find instructions here.
Sometimes flat, overcast skies make for perfect lighting. Or, in this case, backdrop. Bright white clouds contrasting with a blue sky would have been a distraction here. Instead, I was able to showcase the patterns of the branches and leaves.
This photo is included in Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week. You can check out other blogger’s work on her site.
I thought I’d try something a little different for Cee’s Black & White Challenge.
This is one of my favorite shots from Hawaii, but it didn’t come from some spectacular wilderness setting. In the property next to a gas station, there was an interesting group of trees. This was taken looking up from underneath two of them, but closer to the one on the left. I love the patterns of the branches reaching skyward, and in color the contrast of the branches against the lush green with red flowers makes this work. When I converted it to grayscale, it just fell flat. And then I thought, what’ll happen if I click on Inverse? The network of branches came back to life!