Thursday, August 2, 2018

Monsoon Mammatus Clouds





It's "monsoon season" here in New Mexico, when we get a lot of weird clouds and occasionally some rain and/or hail.

Tuesday evening (7/31), right before sunset, was one of those times.  We knew something was up when we looked out our window and saw everything bathed in yellow light, which was being reflected off the underside of the storm cloud.

The most interesting feature of this storm system were the mammatus clouds.  






Composed primarily of ice, they are formed by cold air sinking down to form the udder-like pockets in opposition to the warm air rising by convection.  While they look weird and foreboding, they aren't the heart of the storm . . . and they can appear around, before, or even after severe weather.  You can read more about these clouds by clicking here.

In Tuesday night's case, the mammatus clouds preceded the rain and hail.  We got about 1/4" of rain and about 5 minutes of marble-sized hail . . . and a 90-minute power outage.

Here are a few more pics of the clouds as the evening sun was eventually blocked by clouds in the west.








Otherworldly, eh?

If you would like to see these images in a larger format, please visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.

Enjoy!



Monday, July 30, 2018

Wide-Angle View







A few days ago, I went with one of my photo buddies, Alan, out to the badlands of northwest New Mexico to shoot the rising full moon as we have done for the past couple of months.

This time, however, we were greeted by a rainbow and clouds in the east . . .




. . . as well as a large bank of clouds near the horizon in the west, so we were fairly certain we weren't going to see the moonrise this month.  Maybe next month . . .

But the sun was still above the clouds in the west, so we shot what we could in the 90 minutes before we lost our light.

Fortunately, I had a "Plan B."  Alan had bought a new mirrorless camera and lenses, and offered to sell me his 10-18mm wide-angle lens, which wouldn't work on his new camera but would fit mine.  He brought it on the trip, so I put it on my camera and began shooting.

Well, that was enormous fun!

A wide-angle lens allows you to get closer to a subject while still including more of the surrounding area . . . like this:




(I was about six inches away from the tip of this piece of wood.)

Yes, the lens introduces some distortion, which becomes noticeable if there are straight or perpendicular lines in the scene.  But for wide scenes without straight lines, a wide-angle lens is just the ticket.

I had never used a super-wide-angle lens.  My workhorse lens only goes down to 18mm.  That is sufficient for most purposes, but having a 10mm focal length lens gave me a whole new way of shooting things.

And the features in the badlands were perfect subjects:






































(That's Alan off there in the distance.)

You might notice that in the center of this image there's an interesting little hoodoo (about 3-4 feet tall) and a couple of dead plants below it:




This subject intrigued me, so I moved in very close, knowing the wide-angle lens would let me capture it all.  Bingo!





Again, I was about 6 inches from the plants, and the hoodoo was about 4 feet further away.  I had to get down low so that the hoodoo was against the sky instead of against the ground.  But it was worth the effort, thanks to the wide-angle lens.

If you would like to see these images in a larger format, please visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.


Enjoy!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Utah Photo Expedition - Day 5






Time to head for home . . . with a few photo stops along the way.

As we did every day of this trip, we set out before dawn in order to be at a certain location for the beautiful light of sunrise.  This time we returned to the Factory Butte area west of Hanksville, UT, where we had been on Day 2, to get early light on the butte and on the mesas surrounding the off-road vehicle "recreation area."

The low angle of the sunlight added detail and depth to the surfaces of the butte and mesas.


Factory Butte



North Caineville Mesa and off-road vehicle "recreation area"



South Caineville Mesa and off-road vehicle "recreation area"



After photographing the view from above, we drove down into the "recreation area" for off-road vehicles.

North Caineville Mesa looked beautiful . . .




. . . but the Mancos shale hills looked ominous in the shadows:







Time to move on . . .

We continued east to Hanksville, but instead of retracing our route back to Green River, Moab, etc., we turned south at Hanksville on Utah highway 95 toward the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in order to visit Natural Bridges National Monument.

The area that comprises Natural Bridges National Monument was set aside in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, becoming Utah's first National Park Service area.




Natural bridges are formed by the flow of water through and beneath a sandstone wall.  Arches, on the other hand, such as those in Arches National Park, are created by the fracturing of sandstone from the repeated freezing and thawing of water in cracks of the stone.  If you would like to learn more about the geology of Natural Bridges National Monument, click here.

There are three large natural bridges in the monument area.  They are visible from above, but at a distance, so we chose one to hike down to one of them via stairs, ladders, and switchback trails along the walls of the canyon.















































The bridge we chose is called "Sipapu," which means "place of emergence," an entryway or portal by which the Hopi people believe their ancestors came into this world.

Sipapu is the largest of the three bridges in the park, and the second largest natural bridge in the United States.  (Rainbow Bridge in southern Utah is the largest.)  It is 220 feet above the canyon floor, and its span is 268 feet -- almost large enough to accommodate the U.S. Capitol dome, which is 288 feet high and 96 feet in diameter.







On the floor of the canyon, we hiked downstream for a couple of miles in search of pueblo ruins tucked in under the canyon wall overhangs.







Though there was scant water in the stream that flows through the canyon -- which carved all the bridges and overhangs -- you can see how high the water rises on some occasions by the height of the debris wrapped around this tree trunk:




Eventually we spotted some ruins in the cliffs, but access was too steep for us:





Our time was running short if we were to get back to Albuquerque on this day, so we retraced our steps and headed for home.




I hope you have enjoyed the story and images from our photo expedition to Utah.

If you would like to see these images from the trip in a larger format, please visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.

Enjoy!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Utah Photo Expedition - Day 4








After exploring Cathedral Valley loop on Day 3 in the northern section of Capitol Reef, we went south on Day 4 to explore parts of the nearly 100-mile-long Waterpocket Fold.





The Fold is a monocline, where the crust of the earth has been uplifted, revealing many different layers of sedimentary rock laid down over a period of 200 million years.  If you would like to read more about this geology, click here.

Bruce and I were interested in whatever photographic opportunities the geology provided.  So once again we headed out early to catch the dawn light on the east slopes of the Fold.  





As on Day 3, the moon was setting in the west, so we included it as long as we could:











Then we turned to the shapes, textures, and colors of the rock formations:
































But the most interesting part of the day was a hike into the Fold itself:




Spaces between sections of the Fold form canyons with multi-layered (and multi-colored) walls 200-300 feet high, made of sediments laid down millions of years ago:




Not far from the mouth of the canyon, the walls get closer together to form a very dark and narrow slot canyon:












(Feeling claustrophobic yet?)


The slot canyon runs for about 75 yards, then opens up into another huge area:







This section of the canyon is filled with beautiful desert textures and colors in rocks and plants:




















































Eventually, however, we reached the end of the canyon . . .




. . . so we retraced our steps back to the car, 





then returned to Torrey for one more night.

If you would like to see these images in a larger format, please visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.


Enjoy!