Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Great Wall of the Guadalupes

The Western edge of the Guadalupe Mountains is a sheer cliff over 1000' tall.

It is a dramatic end to the range. The cliff curves around Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, and when seen from above resembles the prow of a ship. The prow is called El Capitan and it visible for many miles across the deserts of west Texas.

That cliff continues up the west side of the Guads and is a true sight to behold
And photograph.

After a day that started as snow, and then one where I went into the canyons and saw fall color would end with me going little south and west of the park where there is a great view of the mountains across a boulder field. You can get great views from the roadside and so I went out to watch the sunset on the great wall.

As you can see the two images here both how spectacular the view is and the nice light we got.

The boulders help frame it nicely for the wide view. It is one of those images that just says-west Texas.

The other close up was during some of the great light that passed the rock face in the late afternoon.

This is such a great location and one of my favorite ways to end the day.

What a view.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Best Fall Color in the West

After enjoying the fleeting snow at dawn, I headed to McKittrick Canyon and the best fall color in the west.

One does not think of Texas as a fall color hot spot, but hidden in the desert canyons of the Guadalupe Mountains is the most vivid fall color in the west. The Guads are fairly unknown even in the national park circuit and in the Lone Star State but that makes going there all the better!
McKittrick Canyon is a magnificent place that for a few short weeks has vivid oranges, fiery reds, and bright yellows of maples that shine in a canyon of huge limestone walls.

As one drives across the flat barren desert of the Permian Basin you would hardly expect fall color but what a surprise it is. McKittrick Canyon has year round water and an ice age relic forest that includes maples that put on the vivid show.

By the time I'd made the hike into the canyon the snow was only a memory, but the cool temps remained. We lost the heavy overcast too and a windy day of moving clouds and partly clear set in.

No, not the best fall color photography conditions. But it was a day in McKittrick!

I am always amazed at the huge canyon walls and the vivid color that clings to the narrow stream corridor or high on north facing canyon walls.

I walked and photographed the color here and there. I also realized that despite numerous trips here,I had never captured it in a way the fully shows the magic of this place. Looking over my images and even these here and I still think I am not doing anything close to the views it deserves.

So take a quick look at these poor attempts and multiply it ten times and then maybe you can realize how great a place this is.

Of course, images like this will not generate a stampede of other photographers, so in a selfish way its a good thing.
To see more on the Guadalupe Mountains, see the article I had published on Nature Photographers Network:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Snow in the Guadalupes

Snow in the Guadalupes s a treat. I wish I could say it was taken last week, but no......this was back at Halloween.

I was making my annual fall color trip and arrived in a snowstorm.

Talk about luck!

I was hoping to find El Cap showing but as I drove around the pass I found it in the clouds. I decided to drive down to the boulders and on the way a coyote ran in front of me. Luckily I had the 70-200 on and I was able to ease to a stop on the side of the road and get this one image. And then he was gone.
The snow stopped quickly and it was just enough to put some definition in the rock strata.

The higher peaks were in the clouds so I worked the hills and ridges. It was a lucky morning.
After a couple of hours working in the now melting snow, I realized that is was after 8am and that McKittrick Canyon was now open, so off for the fall color I went.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sunrise 2010

Hard to believe it is 2010. I was thinking of my 2009 in photography and projecting through 2010.

Looking back on the year past, it started on a cold January morning in Trinity Park, had alot of of local days and then some travel. Big Bend, Wisconsin and the Mississippi, Zion and Grand Canyon, the Lost Mesa in New Mexico, Wyoming and Colorado, Guadalupe Mountains, and the Wichita Mountains were all visited. If I could do it again, I'd have gone more places.

I just cannot get enough days in the field.

Looking into the new year, I am planning on and already looking forward to Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon in February! Yep, going in the winter. Beyond that it is all just thoughts. Big Bend, maybe in the fall. The Lost Mesa, maybe in the late summer. The Guads for fall color.

Who knows where it will all be.

But I am ready to take the camera and go.

And finally, here is the image from this New Years Day. It was raining with great cloud cover on the 31st. It was clear and cold on the 1st. No great sunrise but I did find the early colors of the day behind these branches. Waiting the first sunrise of the new year.