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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

Liquid

At the beginning of this month, we had our last winter storm.  After it cleared out, I went to nearby Red Rock Canyon to catch the rainwater pools before they evaporated, and I posted the first of those shots already.  After that first location, I hiked a little further to another great pool location.  Although now starting to clear out completely, the remaining clouds were just right for the occasion.

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada, rainwater pool, desert, Steve Bruno, landscape photography

rainwater pool, desert, Nevada, Red Rock Canyon, landscape photography

As I took the drive out, the creek crossings had running water, and i knew i had to return the next day to see the waterfalls.  I had aspirations to get to another location, but it’s been years since I’ve seen this one running.  By the time I finished taking photos and videos, it was too late to make it to my originally intended destination.  The water was no longer visible on the drive, and the volume flowing in the falls would probably be gone by the next day.

waterfall, desert, Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

For this week’s Daily Post Challenge:  Liquid

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.

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

Monochrome Madness: MM3-11

Summer started a little over a week ago, and here in Las Vegas we have had 5 days of 110 degrees F already.  In an average year we have between 7 and 9 days (depending on the source) of 110 or higher.  The record is 29 days, from way back in 1940.  Yesterday was a mere 109, and might be the one day that keeps us out of the record books.

Nevada has some mountains worth visiting that allow people to escape the heat, but if this continues, I’ll be heading off towards further destinations.  The photo above, was taken near Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  I like this one because of the shadows of the trees being cast across the falls, in addition to the shapes and motion of the water.  This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.

Mid-week Mixings: Valentine’s Day Hearts & Kisses

As we approach Valentine’s Day, just a reminder to show those you love your appreciation.  We should be doing that everyday, anyway.

The heart shaped falls are from Hawaii, near Hilo.

The kissing rocks are from Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

Kissing Rocks - Steve Bruno

WPC: Weight(less)

Lower North Falls - Steve Bruno
Lower North Falls flows over massive slab of rock in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon. Photo by Steve Bruno

For this week’s Daily Post Challenge, I have another shot from my trip to Silver Falls State Park in Oregon.  I chose this shot for two reasons.  The water falls, obviously, due to gravity, but that slab of rock that the water flows across is cut very deeply underneath.  There is a tremendous amount of weight that is defying gravity by not collapsing here.

WPC: Forces of Nature – Grand Falls

It was difficult to choose just one shot for this week’s challenge, but I’m going with a very unique display of nature’s power.  Grand Falls on the Little Colorado River doesn’t flow year round, or very often, for that matter.  It’s most predictable in spring when the snow is melting.  You might look at this photo and think it looks like a place that doesn’t receive much snow – and you are right.  The Little Colorado River starts high up in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona, and by the time it gets to Grand Falls has dropped around 5000 feet in elevation.  The last stretch goes through the Painted Desert, where any chance of the water remaining clear has perished.

At 185 feet, they are taller than Niagara Falls.  If you look close at the pool at the base of the lower falls, and along the bank in the lower left portion, you will see logs.  That’s quite a journey from the White Mountains, the only place those could have originated.  There’s not a tree for miles from here.  Not a real one, anyway.  Occasionally the falls will become active when a significant thunderstorm happens upstream.  It can be mostly sunny here and you would never know it was coming.  If it rains very close to the falls, you might be stuck on the road for a while.  The best way to know if the water is running is to cross the bridge on Highway 89 near Cameron, Arizona.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Forces of Nature.”

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