Saturday, May 19, 2018

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Pueblo Bonito Ancient Ruins

The ancient ruins of Chaco Culture Historical Park are located in Northwestern New Mexico, southeast of Farmington.  The park is immediately adjacent to Bisti Wilderness Area, but access roads to the two areas are quite distant from each other.  The park is one of only a limited number of sites in the world which have been designated as a World Heritage Site.  Accessibility to the park is good, if you are willing to overlook the highly washboarded condition of the last four miles of gravel road leading into the park.  Although there are several separate ruins in the park, the largest of these is called Pueblo Bonito.  That is where I spent the majority of my visit to the park.

Nested Doorways in Pueblo Bonito

Visitors are able to walk through the ruins of Pueblo Bonito, which enables one to capture images like the one above.  This image reminds me of a toy I had as a small child, which consisted of a series of nested plastic barrels.  As you took apart the barrel on the outside, you found yet another smaller barrel inside it.

Flowering Cactus Among the Ruins

Courtyards of Pueblo Bonito

Bisti Wilderness Area

Egg Factory- Bisti Wilderness

Bisti Wilderness Area is located Southeast of Farmington, New Mexico on land administered by the Bureau of Land Management.  It is mostly undeveloped, devoid of trails or footpaths.  On the day of my visit, I was lucky that the temperature was relatively mild, despite the partly sunny skies.  The area known as the Egg Factory, shown above, represented the farthest extent of my hike into this wilderness.  I'm guessing that I hiked somewhere between five and ten miles round trip to find this area.  

Since the landscape in this spot seemed to be nearly monochromatic, I decided to process this image as a black and white.  I guess time will tell whether or not I will continue that approach.

Sandstone Sculptures- Bisti Wilderness

I understand that the Bisti Wilderness is believed to have once been under an ancient sea, and that the mixture of harder sandstone on top of softer layers of clay is considered to be responsible for the oddly shaped rock and hoodoos found here.  There is also an abandoned iridium mine in the Bisti Wilderness.

Hoodoos- Bisti Wilderness

No handout maps of Bisti Wilderness are available at the entrance to the site.  There is, however, a large posted map at the entrance.  As I wandered among the strange rock formations, my tired feet were wishing that I had taken a digital photograph of that map to help navigate the area.  I'd recommend doing so for anyone considering a visit.  

Monday, May 14, 2018

Grand Canyon Sunrise and Sunset

Sunset- Navajo Point

Recently my eldest daughter did her graduation walk for her PhD in Arizona.  After the ceremony, I took the opportunity to camp for a couple of days in the Grand Canyon.  Although this was not my first visit to the Grand Canyon, it was the first time that I camped inside the park, thereby allowing the possibility of being at the rim for sunrise and sunset.  For my first sunset location, I chose Navajo Point, which is located on the east end of the rim drive, near Desert View Point, and looks nearly due west down a long stretch of the canyon.  The wind was howling that evening, causing me to have to hang on to my tripod to keep it from blowing over.  I think some of the haze in the canyon during my visit may have been from some wildfires in the region.

The images that I came away with at sunrise and sunset are stylistically different from most of my previous work.  Rather than showing much detail, these are really studies in color and shape.  So I'll be interested in other's opinion as to whether these images work for you or not.  Feedback is welcomed.

Tech info- Canon 5D2, 24-105 L zoom.  Cropped to an 8:10 aspect ratio, and warmed in the raw file conversion plus a warming filter.

Sunrise- Yavapai Point

The next morning, I headed to Yavapai Point for sunrise.  There must have been fifty other photographers there with the same idea, so I didn't have a great choice of tripod locations left to pick from.  As the time for sunset approached that evening, I decided the atmospheric conditions were less than optimal, plus I was a bit tired and hungry, so I elected to go to sleep early and hope for a good sunrise the following morning.

Sunrise- Mather Point

On my final morning in the park, I decided to give Mather Point a try.  I have not yet decided which, if any, of these images to print for display.  Perhaps over time I can decide.  Or maybe the opinions of friends will help me decide.

Grandview Point panorama

I know I said this blog post was supposed to be about sunrise and sunset images, but I'm throwing this one in anyway.  On my way out of the park, I decided to stop at Grandview Point.  The image above was shot at 67mm focal length, with three exposures stitched together for a 2:1 aspect ratio.  While this blog may not be the best way to be able to see the detail in a panorama image, if nothing else, it serves to show a contrast of styles versus the first three images.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Yellowstone National Park

Sunset at Lower Geyser Basin

Although I had been to Yellowstone several times previously, I had never spent the night inside the park before, so my access to early morning and late evening light had been limited by the logistics and size of the park.  Therefore, I resolved to camp inside the park during a recent visit.  While I normally consider early October to be the prime time for photography there, during my recent visit I planned to sleep in the back of my pickup in an unheated camper shell in the Madison Campground, and I was concerned about my tolerance for cold October nights. Therefore, I decided to make my trip during the last week of August. 

Before my trip, I had admired some images by others of steam from geysers and thermal features backlit by the sun.  I decided to try to include similar subjects in my photos during this trip.

Clepsydra Geyser near Sunset

Clepsydra Geyser is a predictable subject for sunset images because it erupts almost continuously.  All images on this trip were made with a Canon 5D2, typically using a 24-105 L lens.

Grotto Geyser- Upper Geyser Basin

My first full morning in the park, I decided to head to Upper Geyser Basin.  The hike to Morning Glory Pool is a little over a mile, via one's choice of either boardwalk or paved walkway.

Morning Glory Pool- Upper Geyser Basin

Lower Yellowstone Falls from North Rim

Another morning, I drove to the Canyon area of the park to photograph the falls.  Copious volumes of mist were coming from the base of the lower falls in the cool morning air.

Lower Yellowstone Falls from Artist Point

I hurried over to the South Rim Drive to Artist Point, hoping to catch some good early light.  Unfortunately, a thin cloud covered the sun as I took this image, and an even heavier bank of clouds covered the sun after that.  Still, I like this spot, in any light.

 Bison Grazing

On the way back from Yellowstone Falls, I came across this bison grazing at the edge of a clearing.  I kept my distance from him- this image was taken with a 400 mm lens and was still heavily cropped.

Bison and Steaming Geyser

Since I had no cooking provisions at my campground on this trip,  I drove to the cafeteria at the Old Faithful Inn in order to eat meals.  On one such trip, I saw this young bison with the lower geyser basin in the distant background. 

Emerald Pool

Riverside Geyser

Riverside Geyser erupts on a frequent, regular schedule, shooting hot water high into the air, and landing in the Firehole River.  During the middle of the night after taking this photo, I was awakened in in my campground by the sound of an Elk bugling in the distance.  Then, before I fell back to sleep, a pack of wolves began howling.  A memory I will not soon forget!

Steaming Pool at Morning Light

Old Faithful

I guess one of the first things most people think of when they think of Yellowstone is Old Faithful geyser.  For some reason, I never did get around to photographing Old Faithful on this trip.  Perhaps it was because I knew that I already had the above image of it, which was taken during an earlier trip in 2010.  Yellowstone is an immense park, filled with many natural wonders, and I believe that one could spend decades there and still not see it all. Still, I'm grateful to be able to see some small part of it, and to be able to share these images. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

More Grand Canyon National Park

Evening Light and Shadows from Mather Point

On this trip, I only had a chance to photograph one sunset, and I chose Mather Point, located near the visitor center, as my spot.  I can't honestly say that there was anything especially dramatic about the light or the atmospheric conditions on that evening.  However, any evening at the South Rim is probably not a bad one for photography.  It reminds me a little of that old saying about a bad day fishing being better than a good day working.  

Clouds at Sunset

I would wager my usual limit of a nickel that there was some spot on the South Rim that had a better view of these clouds that evening than the spot where I was.  But, luck plays a role in a lot of things, landscape photography included.  And only being present on one evening does not provide the best of odds at getting a memorable shot.  Guess I will have to return another time!

View from Hermit's Rest

Tech Info-  All images shown were taken with a Canon 5D2 and 24-105 L lens with polarizer.

Yucca Plant at Hermit's Rest

If you would like to compare these images, taken in the July heat, to a previous post of the South Rim in a spring snowstorm, you can click on the April, 2012 post on the right hand side of your screen.
Colorado River from South Rim

Most overlooks on the South Rim do not show much of the Colorado River.  However, this view shows the river winding its way into the canyon from one of the points on the East side of the South Rim, perhaps either Navajo Point or Desert View Point.