Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ghost Mountains Sunrise

After a a couple of clear mornings where I had photographed the sunrise on Santa Elena Canyon, I awoke to another clear morning.  Light and cloud cover are the big variables for the landscape photographer and, as it often is, I had to adapt my morning plan for the light.

Luckily there is an overlook close to my campsite with good views east, west and south.  I knew the stacked ridges of the Chisos Mountains could make an interesting image so I set up for a view east.

I went to the longer lens to exclude excess sky and really narrow down the view.  The view started very blue but as the sun rose it took on an intense brightness and yellow-gold color.  I was making wider and longer views with what the 70-200 lens could do.  After much comparison here at home this became on of my favorites.  Ocotillo, stacked mountains, golden light, and even a touch of flare just added a touch of flare.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Closed Canyon Light

Just west of Big Bend National is the 250,000 acre Big Bend Ranch State Park.  The scenery is as impressive as the national park, the river is still the southern border of the park but the visitation is less.  One of my favorite spots in the state park is Closed Canyon.  A narrow almost slot like canyon that looks like something one might find in Utah.


The red walls rise a hundred feet or more and at many places are just ten feet wide.  Every time is a new adventure here as the canyon is constantly changing.  The infrequent rains roll through here as a flood and scour the canyon floor in one place and fill in the dips in another.  There are obstacles to traverse and water to get across.  It makes every visit fun!


The other great advantage of going to see the canyon is that you can do so at mid day when the light is bouncing down the canyon walls.  So after a morning shoot and a stop for breakfast in the Terlingua Ghost Town it was off to wander into the canyon.  


The day was clear and the light was reflecting off the canyon walls.  I walked, jumped over water puddles, and made my way over a few obstacles.


Here are a couple of images from the morning that I think captured some of the light and the sense of place there.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Desert Clouds

Clouds in Big Bend always seem special to me.  Probably that is because 80% of the time (or more) I am there it seems it is clear blue skies.  Add in some rain with those clouds and it really becomes nice.


On a day that had some rain, I found that there were still nice clouds late in the afternoon and I decided to go to Desert Mountain Overlook.  I knew that from this location I had a good view in several directions and I could work the clouds.  With views to the mountains, the river, and into Mexico, I knew I had made a good choice.


The recent spring rains had even brought the Ocotillo into bloom and with the leaves they put out after a good rain.  Usually you see either/ or but not both.  Typically it is the blooms but bare branches in the spring and the green leaves in the late summer rains.  However, this year, I was getting both.


Clouds, cactus, desert, and mountains came together to make an interesting afternoon.


See more Big Bend images in my Galleries:


Big Bend Image Galleries

Monday, June 4, 2012

Santa Elena Canyon

The premier, must-see attraction in Big Bend is Santa Elena Canyon.  That is really saying something since there are so many things to see in the park and if asked for the best five, I would be hard pressed to narrow it down to just that many.


However, I think it is easy to pick the best-Santa Elena Canyon.


Here literally at the end of the road and right on the border (you need a passport to go any farther) the Rio Grande flows out of a canyon carved in the 1500' tall Sierra Ponce wall.


It is impressive to say the least.  


As I have written here and on my large format blog, you can go to the Grand Canyon and stare down, but it is a great effort to go to the bottom.  Here you are at the bottom looking up.


After a good day of clouds the skies had returned to (what seems to be the normal) clear.  I decided to watch sunrise on the canyon wall and also to catch it from the overlook which is where Ansel Adams made his image of the canyon.  It puts you about a half mile from the canyon but gives a nice view that you can still see the river.


I arrived well before dawn and set up both the large format camera (see that on my Large Format Blog linked to the right) and had my digital camera too.


I made a series of images from predawn light to the first sunlight on the rocks.  I even did some black and white to come away with an image a-la Ansel.


Here are a couple of favorites showing both the golden first light of the day and a monochrome one too.