Sunrise Silhouette

It’s easy to get up before sunrise as the year wears on. I was up and fiddling around yesterday so decided I should take advantage of our great room at the View and set up the camera on the balcony.

Here’s what I saw:

Monument Valley Sunrise Silhouette

Monument Valley Sunrise Silhouette

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Down in the Valley

We made it to Monument Valley. I think I saw the ghost of John Wayne talking to the ghost of John Ford. At least I figure this is where they’d be if they had their druthers.

Monument Valley is a special place and I’m looking forward to exploring it in more detail tomorrow. But just because we got in late in the afternoon doesn’t mean we couldn’t do some photography. Here are a couple images I took this afternoon and after supper. I kind of like them and hope you do, too. You really need to click on the images. The color in the thumbnail isn’t anywhere near what’s really there.

 

Sunset, Monument Valley

Sunset, Monument Valley

 

Monument Valley starlight

Monument Valley starlight

 

 

More to Follow

Bob

That’s a lot of slot

Those of you who know me know that I love slot canyons. We found this one and spent several hours oohing, aaahing and making photographs. The canyon ranged from a couple feet wide to a wide open canyon and the colors were spectacular.

Of course, if you know me at all, you know I prefer black-and-white as an image. Henri Cartier-Breson once said that our first 10,000 photographs are our worst. In pursuit of a black-and-white I can be happy with, I may have to go to 15,000. But, luckily, the canyon provided some excellent opportunities and I’ll share them with you today.

First, the color image. After all, this is color country (click for full size and color).

Slot canyon Overhead

Slot canyon Overhead

 

But then I just had to make some monochrome images. Remember that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel sang words that I will always agree with in their Central Park concert. They correctly updated the words to Kodachrome to say, “Everything looks better in black-and-white.” No truer words have been spoken.

 

Slot canyon 1

Slot canyon 1

 

Still life in a slot canyon

Still life in a slot canyon

More to follow,

Bob

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Back in Paradise

I arrived back in my soul’s home the other day. The red rock country is my true home and it is so good to be back. A group of photographers from a workshop I took recently has been planning this trip for months and we’re all converging on the desert to share some good times and fellowship.

I was waiting for Phil to arrive at Moab international airport, so took a little drive. I spotted some white blossoms and knew I had to record one of my favorite flowers, the sacred datura, or, as it’s known in other regions, jimson weed.

If you’ve read the Carlos Castañeda series of books, you know datura is the plant they used to induce visions. It’s a pretty significant hallucinogen, but must be handled carefully or it can kill the person who ingests it. Being a coward, I tread pretty lightly around the jimson weed, but because it has the most spectacular flowers, it’s always an attractive target for my camera. Here are a couple images I made from a respectful distance (as always, click on the images to see the full size and correct color):

 

Sacred Datura 1

Sacred Datura 1

 

Sacred Datura 2

Sacred Datura 2

 

The adventure is beginning and I’ll share some images of the most beautiful country in the world and the week progresses. Check back often.

More to follow,

Bob

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Western Wildlife

As I entered Yellowstone and went through Mammoth Village, I encountered a lot of traffic. Of course, I knew right away what was happening. The elk herd was on the move. I found a parking place and grabbed the camera with a 300 mm lens. There was a young woman in a ranger uniform nearby and between her shouted exhortations for drivers to move on and not stop in the middle of the road and to stay away from the elk, I struck up a conversation with her. It wasn’t very in-depth, but I think she appreciated the fact that I agreed to get back in the car if he moved our way, so she answered couple questions. Like, why was he wearing the laurel crown? He looked kind of like an elven prince from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and seemed to think he was quite handsome. She said she’d never seen anything like that, but that he’d been scratching the antlers in a tree and the leaves just kind of came along. He didn’t seem to mind. He was more concerned about the cars, charging one every once in a while to show he was ready to defend his harem. Here’s what he looked like:

 

Bull elk, Mammoth Village

Bull elk, Mammoth Village

 

Another kind of wildlife presents itself at Beartooth Pass. There’s a rest area about 2/3 of the way up the pass and along with a bevy of pit toilets, there’s a spectacular view for the adults and entertainment for the kids. I can’t guess how many people feed these gophers (or chipmunks or pot guts or whatever they’re called), but it must be a lot. Including yours truly. A girl, about ten or so seemed to feel sorry for me that all I had was a camera, so she came up and gave me some sunflower seeds to feed the critters with. I thanked her kindly and then, of course, fed the beasts because I didn’t want to disappoint the young lady. This one held still long enough to get a good portrait.

 

Gopher, Beartooth Pass

Gopher, Beartooth Pass

 

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Back to Yellowstone

There’s so much to see in Yellowstone that a day trip simply isn’t enough. Along with the images I shared the other day, there’s more.

The icon of Yellowstone is probably Old Faithful geyser. It goes off on a pretty regular schedule. I got to the parking lot and walked toward the viewing area. There were a whole lot of people there, so I figured it would go off pretty soon. After about ten minutes, there it went! An earthquake several years ago extended the time between eruptions and cut down a little on the volume of water that goes out with each event, but it’s still awfully spectacular. As I photographed the event, I was thinking Black and White. I think it was the right choice. (Don’t forget to click on the thumbnails.)

 

Old Faithful showing off

Old Faithful showing off

 

On the way back down to Gardiner, I stopped at the Gibbon Falls. You might remember the image I showed you last week of the Gibbon River. That’s a few miles upstream from the falls. The sunlight was direct and harsh, so I thought doing a high-dynamic range image would be a good idea. The direct light highlights and the dark shadows were much more than the camera could capture properly, so an HDR seemed to be a good idea. I think it was. Here’s the shot:

 

Gibbon Falls

Gibbon Falls

 

I’ll share a little wildlife with you next time.

More to follow,

Bob

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It Was a Dark, But Not Stormy, Night

When I got to Yellowstone last week, there were predictions that we just might get to see some Northern Lights way down south because of a big Class X flare on the sun. I went out to a dark location in the park to see if I could spot some.

Well, it got good and dark and cool after the summer heat, but I didn’t see any aurora. First, I was out too early, then the moon came up and even at half phase it lit up the sky pretty good. That’s always a challenge for getting a good look at aurorae, so I headed back to my warm motel room.

Next day I drove into the park and gawked around for a while. The road goes along the Gibbon River, so I thought that might make for a nice scenic shot. It did. What you see is the result of the high-dynamic range (HDR) process. HDR has been pretty controversial, although it’s now getting recognized as a valid way to fiddle with photos. Early HDRs were very contrasty and the colors were over saturated, so I didn’t do many in the ‘early days.’ Lately, the process has become more predictable and useful, so I decided to try it with this scene. Worked out just fine.

Here’s a look at the Milky Way from Yellowstone. Looks pretty much the same anywhere in North America, I guess, but the high altitude might have made for clearer skies. They definitely were darker! (As always, click the thumbnails to see the images at the right size and with proper color.)

 

Milky Way, Yellowstone, NP

Milky Way, Yellowstone, NP

 

And here’s a look at the Gibbon River.

 

Gibbon River, Yellowstone NP

Gibbon River, Yellowstone NP

 

I’ll share a few more from Yellowstone in the next few days.

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Well, That’s Crazy

I went to Yellowstone this weekend. On the way back, I stopped to look at the Crazy Mountains just in case there was some autumn color starting up. I didn’t see any of that, but did see a nice panorama that I thought I’d share with you.

This is actually seven images stitched together in Photoshop then minority tweaked after the stitching. I think it came out pretty well and thought I’d share it with you.

Don’t forget to click on the thumbnail to see the image full frame (it may not fit entirely on smaller monitors, but you can scan back and forth to see the full image).

 

Crazy Mountains Panorama

Crazy Mountains Panorama

 

I”ll share some of my images of Yellowstone as the week goes on, so be sure to check back.

More to follow,

Bob

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Where I live Redux

I’ve been kind of behind the times with my posts and I apologize for that. I thought today I should share with you a little more about where I live.

I went up to Beartooth Pass on the Montana-Wyoming border this morning. I used to live in Wyoming and love the state and live in Montana now, so it makes sense to shoot along the border.

A bonus was I got to walk in some fresh snow. Those of you who know me well know I hate summer, love autumn and winter, and really enjoy spring. Today made me feel like Autumn couldn’t be far off.

Here are a couple images from today. They’re actually the same image, just processed differently. They’re seven-shot panoramas, which means I took seven photos and then let Photoshop merge them into one huge file. I quite like the color one, but can’t pass up an opportunity to convert them to black-and-white whenever I think the image will work that way. You can look and decide (click on the thumbnails to see them in their full glory).

 

Beartooth Pass Panorama (The files are really big, so it might take a while to download when you click on them).

 

Beartooth pano in color

Beartooth pano in color

 

Beartooth pano B&W

Beartooth pano B&W

 

Shot some more that I’ll try to get uploaded this week.

More to follow,

Bob

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Airshow 2

Back at it the second day. Again, the weather was almost uncooperative, but things held off until the show was over. I was a little concerned because there was a rather large area of mammatus clouds. I’ve been told that they are indicators of pretty rough air and potential severe weather. Fortunately, they passed over before the action started.

Saturday’s show saw the Blue Angels short one plane, so the traditional diamond formation was replaced with what they called the mini-delta. Sunday, all six planes were ready to go and the diamond formation was back. I’ve got to say that the Blue Angels Diamond formation is the tightest, finest, most thrilling formation to watch. They fly about a foot-and-a-half from wing tip to canopy and make a knife edge pass by the field to show how close they are. Then they show similar close quarters with an echelon formation. One of the Blues’ maneuvers is to do a roll in the echelon formation. When I was stationed at Miramar Naval Air Station, their announcer said they did that maneuver because the Air Force said it was impossible. No inter-service rivalry there.

Here are a couple shots from Day 2 (click the thumbnails):

 

The Diamond

 

The Diamond

The Diamond

 

And the Echelon:

Angels Echelon

Angels Echelon

 

That’s my Blue Angels fix for a while. Until, of course, they appear close to home again!

More to follow,

Bob

 

 

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