Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Edge of the Plains

I was driving across Wyoming along the edge of the Great Plains headed to the Snowy Range.  It is a wide open land of short grass prairie, pronghorn, and sky.

The mountains are a distant line but one I was making toward.  West of Laramie you cross that last flat ground and then suddenly the mountains are there.  Unlike some places where the foothills are first encountered, the Snowys "pop" out of the prairie.

As I drove these last few miles where mountains, plains, and sky all meet I had the radio on and caught Coplands "Rodeo".  If you need a hint on what piece that is, think of the "Beef, its what's for dinner" commercials.  It was like being in the opening credits of a movie.  Great views and great sound track. There on the edge of the plains with 160 horses headed into the Snowys.

What a way to start a trip.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Pecos

The Pecos is one of the rivers in epic proportions.  Think of Judge Roy Bean being "The Law West of the Pecos".  The Pecos is also really an important dividing line in geography in Texas as the 29 mountain ranges in the state are west of the Pecos.  In fact, it is usually about the time that you cross the Pecos that you will first notice mountain ranges in the distance.  On a trip west to Big Bend or the Guadalupe Mountains, it is always a magical moment to get that first glimpse of the mountains as you drive across the flat Permian Basin.

On my way home from Big Bend, I had started early and found myself between Fort Stockton and Monahans in the very early twilight.  I could tell there were some nice clouds and had hopes for a good sunrise.  At first, I gave thought to going to Monahans and photographing the sand hills.  Then I realized I was close to the Pecos and stopped at the bridge crossing it.

Now understand, by the time the Pecos River arrives in this part of the Permian Basin it is a small river.  The arid desert has consumed most of it.  It is a bubbling stream in the mountains of New Mexico east of Santa Fe and it is recharged by springs into a stronger river in the canyons closer to the Rio Grande, but here in the Permian Basin is not much more than a stream.

I would go as far to say few people ever stop at this bridge to look at it.  The flat scrub country of the Permian Basin scare them off.  I have to say that in the many times I had been this way , I had slowed down to look but never taken the time to stop.

This time I stopped.

Down at the river I found a small but flowing river and with clouds that were on their way to a nice sunrise.  I set up the camera and started taking images in the cold morning air.

After looking downstream for the first part of the morning, as the sun rose, I walked to the other side of the bridge and photographed upstream.  There I found a small pool catching the morning light and reflecting the puffy clouds above.

What virtually all other travelers would have passed turned out to be a neat little area.  A small oasis of of water that was really a great photo opportunity.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest Trees

The Enchanted Forest is a small area of Big Bend where less than an acres of trees makes a delightful oasis in the desert.  

The trees are thin and none more than 15 foot tall yet they create a canopy of shade as they this trunks and tiny branches reach into the desert sky.

At your feet is a carpet of last years leaves crunchy and yellowish.  In the autumn the leaves above turn golden.  No matter the season, the entire place seems to glow.  

Truly enchanted.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Secret Canyon

Big Bend is known for the three great canyons of the Rio Grande.  Santa Elena, Mariscal, and Boquillas are amazing canyons that are worth a visit on foot or by boat.

However there are other canyons in Big Bend that are unknown, little known, or overlooked.  This canyon is one of those.  It is marked on no maps, there is not a trail, and  among the vast desert and its huge neighbors this canyon is lost for all but a few.

I first saw this canyon several years ago when photographing a sunset.  It intrigued me so I decided to hike to it the next trip.  I completed a traverse through the canyon and was quite impressed.  The rocks here were at strange angles.  There were boulders, water crossings, places you had to scamper over rocks, or climb around holes.

Another thing I found when finishing was that the end of this canyon is a mere 100 yards or so from the road.  I know you must be thinking, if the canyon is that close to a road how can people not know it?  Lets just say the entrance does not face the road, so when looking at it it just looks like a small hill.  However if one makes that short walk you see the canyon turn and drop into a very neat looking location.

It has now become a regular stop for me on my trips to Big Bend.  Sure, this canyon pales in comparison to Santa Elena, but if it were in a state park it would be a major attraction.

Here are a few images from the canyon to share some of its secrets.  

The rocks here are folded at an extreme angle and the canyon cut through them in a way that left them pointing at the sky.  The walls are a dark red but the rocks along the wash are almost blue.  Flowers grow in shady and sandy pockets along the path the water takes.  

The canyon also sports several tough water obstacles.  Some require climbing rocks to get around, others require skill balancing on slick rock along the waters edge, and finally some just have to be waded.  Of course, like any canyon, each trip here is different and the canyon is constantly changing.

Of course, as one of the few people who know of this place, I am one of the few to see the changes.  Call that one of the advantages of knowing about the secret canyon.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Landscape -Article

A article I wrote on landscape photography has been published in the South African magazine-Wild Photo Mag.

You can see the article here:

Wild Photo Mag Article on Fisheye Landscape Photography

You will find my article on pages 6-9 of the July-August issue.

You do not think of a fisheye lens as being a serious lens for the landscape but take a look and see what it can do for you.