Monday, April 5, 2021

Covid Respite #16 - Golden Hour Above Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah


For landscape photographers, Golden Hour light is highly desirable.  It's a photographic holy grail, with its low angle and warm color that can make almost any landscape look great.  Over the years, I have occasionally succeeded in finding and shooting in this kind of light.  You can read about it in some of my earlier posts here and here.

In all of those previous Golden Hour situations, I was shooting from ground level.  But with my new drone, I can now shoot from above.  Since the beginning of the year, I'd been waiting for an opportunity to shoot in the New Mexico badlands at Golden Hour.  Last week, it appeared.

As you have probably deduced from many of my previous posts, the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah wilderness area is one of my favorite places in the northwest New Mexico badlands.  Usually I travel there with photography buddies, but on this trip I was introducing Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah to a Corrales couple who are neighbors and friends.

They had never been to Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah, so we waited for a good weather day to make the trip.  (Good weather = temps in the mid 60s, light wind, and, for photography purposes, some clouds.)  Serving as their guide, I enjoyed watching them discover the amazing landscape of Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah:

As a consequence, I didn't take as many pictures as I ordinarily would.  But I managed to grab a few, featuring the ubiquitous hoodoos and other dramatic features of the area:

Best of all, we experienced a magical moment when we were graced by the presence of some horses that we occasionally see traveling in the valley:

My primary purpose on this trip was to give my guests a good tour.  But of course I brought along my drone in hopes of getting some Golden Hour images from above.  Near the end of the day, I released my charges to explore on their own, and unpacked the drone.

The sky and clouds cooperated, giving us brilliant unobstructed sunlight for about 20 minutes just before sunset.  The light was so rich that I actually had to de-saturate these images a bit.

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


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Covid Respite #15, Part 2 - Location and Scale

With the ability to do aerial photography via my drone, I'm now able to provide a bird's-eye view of some of the features I photographed from the ground . . . so you can see them in the larger context of the area, and see more or less where I was standing to shoot them.

Here are nine examples from my recent visit to the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah wilderness area for your enjoyment.  If you would like to get a closer look at the aerial shot diagrams and corresponding ground-based images in a larger format, visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.

We'll begin with the overview, which shows a large section (but not all) of the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah area and for scale, near the middle, my friend Mark in the blue shirt.

Now here are the aerial view diagrams paired with the corresponding ground-based images:

Monday, March 15, 2021

Covid Respite #15 - Return to Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah


March in New Mexico means gradually warming temperatures and rapidly blowing winds.  But when the temps are comfortable and the winds are light, it's a good time to get out for another Covid Respite photography trip . . . this time a return visit to the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah wilderness area in northwest New Mexico with another photo buddy, Mark Werner.

I've visited Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah eight or nine times over the past two years, primarily because it offers what I call a good work-to-reward ratio -- i.e., remote, but not too remote; easy to explore; and a great array of hoodoos and other visually interesting features to photograph.

(See Covid Respite #6 for an account of a previous visit to ASSP by clicking here.)

Now it might seem to you that repeated visits would be boring and unproductive.  But I've learned over the years that for landscape photography it takes more than one visit to "learn" a place and discover what it has to give by way of photo opportunities.

In addition, even if the land and the features are physically the same, the light is different every time, depending on the season, the time of day, the weather . . . so what looks great on one visit may not look as great the next time, and vice versa.

This was an afternoon and evening trip with three objectives:  (1) re-introduce Mark to the area (he had been there only once before); (2) allow me to practice aerial photography with my drone; and (3) get some "golden hour" and "blue hour" images around sunset.  We succeeded on all three counts, but, as you will see, the third one was a challenge.

We arrived mid-afternoon to a sky mostly clear of clouds (as you can see from the image at the top of this post).  But the forecast was for clouds to move in beginning a couple of hours before sunset, so we knew the light would change, and the golden and blue hour conditions were uncertain at best.

Nevertheless, you take what the light and the land give you, and we had fun exploring the hoodoos and hills from the ground level . . .

and (for me with the drone) from above:

As the clouds began to fill the sky, we got "peek-a-boo" light that would change from bright direct sun to complete shade in a matter of seconds:

But as troublesome as the clouds were for lighting, they provided more interesting skies.

As the sky filled up with clouds and blocked the sun as it settled toward the horizon, our chances for a "golden hour" diminished commensurately.

But then . . . a small gap in the clouds at the horizon gave the sun an opening . . .

. . . and the golden light began to pour through.  The show was on!

We knew the sunlight wouldn't last, so we were dashing from feature to feature, grabbing whatever we could.  This was not contemplative photography; it was spray and pray!

In a matter of minutes -- literally, 10 minutes -- the light faded, and the golden hour was over.

Then, however, the blue hour began:

Because we didn't have clear sky at the western horizon to provide the bright soft light for a typical blue hour, this blue hour (like the golden hour before it) was short-lived:  barely 20 minutes.  But it was OK.

And, just for fun, I converted a couple of the blue hour images to black-and-white:

Finally, a bonus for you:  fly-over views of the area from my drone.

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