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.



  1. Might have to change your call name from weather dog to hoodoo dog. These are great. My favorite two, although they are all superb, is the shot above "at sunrise" and the red rock being held up (balanced) by 3 pillars of grey rock.

  2. PS: and you picked great shots for the B&W - really shows off their shapes and textures / Barry

  3. Fabulous photos! Love all those shapes! You really know how to show our wonderful state through your photos!

    1. Thanks, Carol. My pleasure to share the beauty.

  4. Thanks, Lance, for these great photos. Some years ago we traveled to Turkey, to Cappadocia, to see a similar type of landscape. I appreciate knowing that we have such an impressive place right here. I liked the details brought out by the B&W but was also captivated by the subtle gradations of hues in the color photos. Jennifer L.

    1. Thanks for your kind comments, Jennifer. I have never been to Cappadocia, but I have seen photos, and it is very similar. Glad you enjoyed the B&W textures as well as the interesting colors of the place. Hope you and your family are well. Cheers! -- LWO