Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice

It is Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year and the start of winter. It is also one of those rare nights where there is an lunar eclipse. That sounded like a great photo op to combine the two. It would be perfect to be out someplace in west Texas and stay up all night to photograph it over some desert mountains.

Sadly that was not an option for me as it was a work night and staying up late on a work night (make that any night) is a no go for me. So I did the next best thing. I went out to photograph the moon before the eclipse started and put some trees that still had fall color-yes fall color the week of Christmas-in the image.

So here is the full moon on the longest night of the year.

Welcome to winter.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sierra del Carmens

The Sierra del Carmens are a major landmark on the eastern side of Big Bend. The stark escarpment of the range is visible for miles.

However the range is not actually in the park. It is not even in the United States. The Carmens are in Mexico.

The Rio Grande flows past them and then cuts through them to form Boquillas Canyon. The continuation of the the mountains in the United States is the Dead Horse Mountains which run along the eastern edge of the park.

Here are a couple of images from last month that show the range. First a stitched panorama showing the entire Carmen escarpment. If you click the picture to look at the larger version you might be able to find the Tornillo Creek bridge. Tornillo Creek is the dry wash you see in the image. The big bridge has almost had flood waters go over the top. When it flash floods here, it really floods.

The second image is from the soft light of evening after the sunset. The Rio Grande is visible and the last light of day still lights up the ridges of Mexico.

Also I have added several images from my Big Bend trip to my gallery. See them here

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Road to Big Bend

Road to Big Bend. Kinda sounds like a Bob Hope-Bing Crosby movie.

The wide open of west Texas may not be the ideal setting for a comedy but it sure is a great location as a photographer.

Or even just as a place to truly get away from it all.

I headed west on the open road into clear skies. It is a ten+ hour trip from Cowtown and it is a good drive. I always like travelling west as the farther you go the few people there are. Nothing like going east where there are little towns every 5 miles. Go west and you start to understand distance.

West I went. Across the hills, mesas, and rolling prairies of Texas. Then across the flat Permian Basin. That's the object that foils most people. But get past it to the Pecos River and things start to change.

Get past Fort Stockton and you are into the big country.

Mountains. High grasslands. Big ranches. Bigger views.

Finally arriving in the ranch lands around Marathon you truly feel you are out west. It is like walking into the movie Giant (which was filmed outside Marfa about an hour west of Marathon).

It is when I get here that I know I am out in the good country. The big open.

I have included a few images from that big open range around Marathon. The vastness of the land here is awe inspiring, I can only hope an image can begin to even capture it.

My trusty Honda Element loaded with camping gear and ready for a big adventure.

Another of the signs of the ranchers out here.

The third image is of the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park-this is my destination. After leaving the highlands around Marathon the road slopes down toward the border. The land becomes drier and hotter-the desert comes into full force. Then after one crosses Persimmon Gap you finally see the Chisos in the distance.

There they are after 10 hours on the road.