Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Mountains of the Lost Mesa

The open range country of the Otero Mesa is surrounded on three sides by mountain ranges.  To the north is the Sacramento Mountains, to the east the great wall of the Guadalupe Mountains, and to the south are the lonely peaks of the Horned Mountains. 

It is the lonely peaks of the Horned Mountains that I regularly visit and photograph.  

The range is unique, unknown, and seldom visited.  Much like the entire Otero Mesa are if you mention the Cornudas Mountains, people will draw a blank.  It is just not a range that is known.  Cornudas is Spanish for "horned" and I generally prefer to call them the Horned Mountains.  It sounds better somehow.

Each mountain of the range is a stand alone mountains almost like they were randomly dropped from the sky.  In a typical mountain range there is a crest with several peaks rising from the crest.  Here you have several individual mountains rising out of the open range of the Otero Mesa.

Not only is each peak unique, they look vastly different.  Some like Wind Mountain are like a giant pyramid.  Others like Alamo and Flat Top are truly flat topped (almost like a mesa). Finally Cornudas Mountain itself is just a jumble of rocks.

I understand that all of them are volcanic in origin, although none are volcanoes.  There are various igneous and I believe metamorphic rocks to be found in different areas and on different peaks.  Some rocks are covered in petroglyphs and other rocks are pure granite.

The lonely quality of those individual peaks rising out of the open range grasslands give the Horned Mountains an almost mythic quality.  Something more out of a story than reality.  Each one different. Each one something unique.  

That makes every angle here different.  I can photograph each peak as an individual and the entire range.  The view changes with each location.  

Every trip here takes me to new sights and new ways to view and photograph these peaks.

Here are a few views.  The top image takes in most of the range at sunrise.  Note how each peak can be seen to stand out as a unique mountain and the different shapes.  The middle image is of Flat Top Mountain in the afternoon.  It is obvious how it got its name.  Finally the third image is of the jumble of rocks that is Cornudas Peak.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rain on the Open Range Country of the Lost Mesa

 The open range of the Otero Mesa is wild, wide open range country.  I love the vastness of the land, the lonely mountains, and the solitude of the place.  I was drawn back to this landscape again in what has become a regular destination and an annual trip.

It is a trip that marks the end of summer and is timed to coincide with the monsoon season in the southwest when the tropic hurricane season sends rainy into the parched southwest.

This a dry year.  Texas and New Mexico are suffering a severe drought.  Both states are way under for rain totals for the year and fires have raged across both states.  The mesa is under it's rain total for the year but still showed some signs of the wet season.

The grasses were not as green as in the past years and some areas that get seasonal pools of water were dry.  However the ocotillo were all green with leaves showing some signs of rain.

I was lucky to see some rain on this trip.  It was very distant and light but there was some rain out there on the horizon.

Here are a couple of images from the trip and showing a little of that distant rain.

Take in the vast distances here and how open the open range is.  Then marvel at how even that little bit of rain brings new life to the desert.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hometown Nature Photography-Published Article

 I recently had another article published by the good folks over at Naturescapes, this one on hometown nature photography.

It is easy to dismiss the place where you live as a location to make great nature photography, however that is exactly the place you have the best chance at making a great image.  Simply put, you are there every day.  You get to see it in different light and different seasons.  You can learn its locations like few others.

Think of where you live as your home field advantage!

Here are a few images to give you an idea.  Both were taken within a five minute walk of where I live.  Both were taken on the Clear Fork in Fort Worth.

I can be here quickly so when I saw nice clouds that looked like a potentially good sunrise one morning I was able to grab my gear and head down to the river to catch this nice sunrise.

The wildflower image was done one fine spring day on a walk when I just happened to have had a camera with me (you do carry a camera every day-right?).

So get out there with your camera, great pictures are waiting in your neighborhood!

See the article here:   Hometown Nature Photography Article

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Call for Wilderness-Published image

I have another image from Otero Mesa being published by the Wilderness Society in their magazine.

The Otero Mesa is the largest tract of open range grasslands left in the lower 48 and is an ideal candidate for protection.  The are several Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) on the million plus acre mesa, however Congress has yet to approve any of them to be added to the Wilderness System.

Since the area is public land managed (mostly) by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) it is subject to mining claims.  There have already been attempts to gain drilling permits and now the area is under threat of hard rock mining.

The Wilderness Society is working to help provide that protection this amazing location deserves.

See more on the Wilderness Society website    Wilderness Society

See more on the Otero Mesa on my Blog  and images in my Gallery

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Davis Mountains-Published Image

I have an image being published in The Nature Conservancy Magazine for a story about the Davis Mountains.

The Davis Mountains are a large range that is often called the Texas Alps.  Here the elevation in towns such as Marfa, Alpine, and Fort Davis is about a mile high and the peaks reach well above 8,000'.  The Davis Mountains, like the Guadalupes, and the Chisos Mountains, are a "sky island" where the mountains provide cooler higher elevations above the lower desert that surrounds them.

The range is host to a large Nature Conservancy preserve, as well as Davis Mountains State Park, and the McDonald Observatory.

See more on the Nature Conservancy here- Nature Conservancy Website