Thursday, July 11, 2019

Black in Blue and Gold

Landscape photographers (like me) typically favor two periods of beautiful light for outdoor photography:  the "golden hour" and the "blue hour."  Both are related to sunrise and sunset times, and they are each only about 30 minutes long -- sometimes even shorter -- but for reasons I don't know they are still referred to as "hour."

The so-called "golden hour" happens (a) 20-30 minutes before sunset and (b) 20-30 minutes after sunrise, assuming the sun is not obscured.  The low-angle, almost horizontal direct sunlight creates a "warm" (more reddish) and softer (less bright) light than when the sun is higher.

The so-called "blue hour" happens (a) 20-30 minutes after sunset and (b) 20-30 minutes before sunrise, assuming a mostly clear sky.  In those periods, the diffused light of the blue sky lights the landscape evenly and casts a soft blue light on everything.

The light of each period creates a different look and a different mood.  Here's an example of each:

"Blue Hour" light

"Golden Hour" light

Recently my photo buddy, Alan, and I made a couple of trips to photograph one of our favorite landscapes in the badlands of northwest New Mexico -- Georgia O'Keeffe's "Black Place" -- to capture some "blue hour" and "golden hour" images.  We went once at sunrise and once at sunset.

"Blue Hour" pre-dawn:

Blue Hour post-sunset:

Golden Hour pre-sunset:

Golden Hour post-sunrise:

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.


Monday, July 1, 2019


One of the reasons I like exploring and photographing the desert landscapes of New Mexico (as well as Utah and Arizona) is that, because the land has little or no vegetation, you can see the bones of the earth and its geological history right out in the open.

One of those places is a little-known area called Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah in the badlands of northwest New Mexico.  Encompassing over 6,500 acres, ASSP is designated as a Wilderness Study Area, and thankfully, as of March, 2019, has been included in land protected by the Federal government's National Wilderness Preservation System.

The area consists of a dry wash about a mile wide and six miles long.

It's filled with weird shapes . . .

hoodoos of all sizes, shapes, and heights . . . 

colorful hills . . .

narrow ravines . . .

balanced rocks . . .

petrified wood . . .

coal . . .

eroded cliffs . . .

and other geological features created by water and wind erosion of materials -- mostly clay, shale, and sandstone -- deposited 70 million years ago (more or less).

In addition to the large-scale features, there are many beautiful elements to be found at your feet on the small end of the scale.

Over the past six months I have visited ASSP four times, accompanied by different photo buddies on different visits.  

Bruce Shah

Alan Postelnek

As you can see, ASSP is not a landscape filled with beautiful mountains, lakes, streams, and trees.  Indeed, there's hardly any vegetation at all, and virtually no water.  But for me, the place is a photographic feast of physical features revealed by the absence of those elements.

Landscape images depend on the available light, which in turn depends on the weather, the time of day, and even the time of year.  And like for most landscape scenes, the best light at ASSP is usually to be found in the minutes just before and after sunrise or sunset.  Here are some images captured at those times.

"Blue Hour" before sunrise:

At sunrise:

At sunset:

Finally, just for fun, I converted a few images to black-and-white.  Here are a couple I like:

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.