Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wintery Trees

Wintery trees in north Texas.

We had a great fall this year in north Texas. The color started in early November and we had it peak the two weeks after Thanksgiving. The last of the leaves blew away the week before Christmas.

Now it is winter. We even had a couple of nights it was down in the 20's although those only last a few days and then we are back to 65 degree days. At 5am on the 27th it was 68 degrees, not what many would call winter. Today on the 28th it is a bit more seasonal at 36. Ahhh, Texas weather. Winter is just begining but I know it will be spring again in just a few weeks. I am already thinking of where I will chase the bloom and how far afield I will go. but for now I enjoy the winter.

Here is an image of some wintery trees taken this last week. The moon hangs in the sky and the colors of the early dawn are starting to light the sky.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice has arrived. The longest night of the year. It is an occasion that has become somewhat of a tradition to be on the river to see the sunset on the shortest day of the year. See my Traveling Camera Blog for last year .

Much like last year it was a cloudy afternoon. The temps were falling fast and it was in the 40's when I waded into the river. I photographed the clouds and the rock ledges in the river. I was hoping for a fireball sunset but much like a year ago it was just a touch of distant color on the horizon. I walked around on the rocks and over the ledges. I waded into a couple deeper pools. Luckily I have a pair of Wellies that reach to the knee allowing me to get out into the river in the cooler temps of winter.

I found some rock ledges that ran diagonal through the frame toward the touch of color in the sky. The hint was not much but I hoped it would pick up on the sensor.

As the sky got darker I left the river and went up on the bank where I could get a better view to the western horizon. There was just a touch of color. I switched over to the 200mm and isolated a few bare tree tops and made a few more images until the light was all but gone from the sunset.

With the lights of the city casting an orange glow on the clouds I walked up to one of my favorite trees (the same one I photographed last Winter Solstice). This time I went with the 10mm ultra wide and got right up underneath it.

The view looking up at the bare branches waving in the breeze with orange glow in the clouds made a cold wintery night image. The perfect way to make my first image of the winter season.
The winter is here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Rocks. Big rocks. The Guadalupes are full of them. Rocks are everywhere.
There are hikes I walk around, climb over or sometimes go under them. One could even say that El Capitan itself is just one big 1500' tall rock.

This is a land where rocks tell the story of the past. Be it in the fossils or petroglyphs found in the area-the rocks are the history here.

The rocks here constantly draw my interest as a photographer. The texture, the shapes, the patterns, and the constant presence of El Capitan all combine to make image after image. I am sure some would find it repetitive but I find so many ways to capture them again and again.

Here are two. One large boulder with texture detail and the distant El Cap. The other a group of boulders and El Cap in black and white. Similar yet different.

The mountains, the rocks and the sky. Timeless.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Canyons of the Guadalupes

The Guadalupe Mountains rise up out of the deserts of west Texas and reach into the sky. They top out 3000-5000' above the surrounding countryside. and as such they are able to generate their own weather and rain.

That rainfall is significant. One because it supports life, but also in what happens to it in the Guadalupes. In eons past the Guadalupes were an ocean reef on the edge of the Permian basin. As such they are limestone. Limestone is a very porous rock and the rain that falls into the high country of the Guadalupes goes right into the ground. There are no high country streams or ponds here, it all goes deep into the rock. It springs out at low impermeable rock layers in a few canyons or springs on the eastern side of the range.

That water in those canyons creates a sight to behold. In the deep recesses under the towering walls of McKittrick Canyon there is free flowing water. The pure clear water spills over stark white limestone. It provides life to animals. It supports trout in the stream. It allows maples to survive in the desert.

The maples of the Guadalupes put on some of the most vivid color you will ever see. They cling to north facing canyon walls and a narrow strip around the life giving water.

This is a spot that has been called the prettiest spot in Texas, and rightfully so.

I have chased the colors here in the autumn for many years. I have seen days of warm sunny sky. I have been here in the rain. I have been here in the wind. Every time I am here I am more impressed with these canyons. When I walk these paths under these colorful trees and see the huge canyon walls above I understand how John Muir must have felt in Yosemite. The best part still is that the Guadalupes are still a secret-I can spend a day here and practically have the canyon to myself. If I go out on any other trail I will have it to myself.

I marvel at the reds, oranges, and yellows of the leaves. The colors are so vivid, I sometimes wonder if you can truly capture them.

Here you will see several images from these fantastic canyons. I start with the water flowing in McKittrick. It is that water that makes it all happen. The water flows but there are places it does not. The porous nature of limestone will have the entire stream sometimes disappear underground only to re-emerge a few yards later. You can see the orange leaves and canyon walls of McKittrick. Or a close up of the maple leaves in color.

Finally there is a view from the neighboring and dry of surface water in Pine Springs Canyon. What it lacks in flowing water it makes up for in rugged splendor. Here you hike in the streambed. Over rocks and around boulders up into the narrowing canyon until you reach the Devil's Hallway where the rock walls close in on you.