Saturday, November 28, 2020

Covid Respite #8 - Valley of Dreams from Above


A couple of weeks ago I made another trip to the Valley of Dreams in northwest New Mexico, this time accompanied by our younger son, Drew, who enjoys flying drones.  (See my previous posts about Valley of Dreams by clicking here and here.)  

With its hoodoos and other weird features, Valley of Dreams seemed like a great place for aerial photography, so I was happy to have Drew along to capture the area from a different point of view.  See below for a link to a short video with some aerial views from his drone-mounted camera.

Before we even got to the Valley of Dreams area, as we were hiking from the car, we saw horses!  

We stopped and watched silently as about a dozen crossed our path about 50 yards in front of us:

There are hundreds of hoodoos in the Valley of Dreams, so I see new ones every time I visit --                   big ones . . . 

and little ones (see second image below for scale):

We visited the now-familiar "Alien Throne" hoodoo:

For scale, here's Drew next to Alien Throne:

And speaking of scale, you may recall this image from my previous visit:

So how big is that pyramid, and how big is the rock?  Here's Drew again for scale:

We found a spire, a stack, and a wall:

In addition to the large features, I always enjoy seeing the textures and colors of the small stuff:

There were lots of pieces of petrified wood, which Drew had never seen before . . .

And always millions of pebbles . . .

As the sun began to set, we moved back around to the "front" side of the area so I could get ready for some "blue hour" photography.

I had scouted out a couple of possibilities in the same area as the pyramid I shot last time including this feature . . .

and another one . . .

. . . but finally settled on this composition and got lucky with some anticrepuscular rays from the clouds on the southwestern horizon (behind my camera position) casting shadows to the northeast (where the camera is looking):

While I was busy shooting all this, Drew climbed up a hill to capture the blue hour light with his drone.

You'll find a link to his drone video below -- keep reading!

As the sky grew darker, the crescent moon appeared, along with a jet and its pink contrail:

We headed for the car, but had one more photo op, thanks to a cloudless sky:

OK, so you made it this far, it's time for your reward:  the drone video from above the Valley of Dreams.  Click here.

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.


Friday, November 13, 2020

Be Patient


"Be patient."

It's one of my photography mantras that I share when I teach my beginning digital photography class at the University of New Mexico's Continuing Education department.  

This morning's sunrise was one of those "wait for it" events.  The sky to the east was overcast, but there was just a touch of pink above the Sandia Mountains at 6:13am . . .

But after a few minutes, even that had disappeared (6:21 am):

At this point, I would usually conclude that there was no more to be seen, pack up my camera and tripod, and go back in the house.  But that earlier hint of pink above the mountain -- and the streaks of pink off to the southeast -- suggested that behind the mountains (where I couldn't see) there might be a gap between the cloud layer and the horizon that would allow the sun to illuminate the underside of the cloud layer, at least for a few minutes.  So I left everything in place, and waited.

Four minutes later (6:25 am), to the northeast, where the mountain descends and the horizon isn't so obscured, something was happening:

Moments later, even the sky above the mountain began to light up:

In two minutes (6:28 am), the sky was ablaze:

Three minutes after that (6:31 am), it was beginning to shrink at the lower level, but was lighting up some of the higher (actually nearer) clouds:

A minute later (6:32 am) it was almost over:

So what initially appeared to be a "nothing" sunrise turned into a beautiful 8-minute light show.  It doesn't work out this way every time, but it's always a good idea to . . .  be patient.

- - - - - - - - - 

Later in the day, a bonus:  clouds streaking across the sky . . .

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


Monday, November 9, 2020

Covid Respite #7 - Valley of Dreams

Valley of Dreams is a separate area of amazing landscape features within the broader Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah wilderness area.  I have visited it twice before, and it seemed like a good destination for another Covid Respite trip, so at the end of October I headed out there with another of my photo buddies, Bruce Shah.

(You can see my earlier blog post about Valley of Dreams by clicking here.)

When we arrived in the area mid-afternoon, we had some beautiful streaky clouds -- always a plus for New Mexico landscape photography . . .

. . . but by the time we hiked in a mile from our car to the main area of hoodoos and spires, the clouds had all evaporated (sigh):

To give you a sense of the topography and scale, here's a satellite view of the area from Google Maps.  Of course, it's hard to tell what you're looking at from this altitude, so I've added some notes:

Hoodoos are mudstone pillars topped with harder sandstone caps, and they come in all sizes:  

. . . large (with Bruce for scale) . . .

 . . . and small:

The hoodoos in the southern side of the area are primarily walls of mudstone capped with giant blocks of sandstone, many of which (as you see in the image below) lie strewn about after the mudstone supporting them has eroded away:

But the northern side of the area is a riot of free-standing hoodoos sprouting from a complex base layer that has eroded into thousands of nooks and crannies:

That tall hoodoo in the center of the image above actually has a name:  Alien Throne.  In a world of strange shapes, it's one of the most strange.

There are plenty of other strange-looking hoodoos out there:

It's extremely rare to see anyone else in the same area, but as we wandered around, we noticed another person in the hoodoo forest.  He was a photographer from Minneapolis on a months-long solo trip to the Southwest, so we chatted for a while and I took his picture:

Besides the large features like hoodoos, there are many beautiful small features as well, such as watercourses with flow patterns (it had rained a few days earlier) . . . 

miniature hoodoos emerging from the ground . . .

 . . . and millions of pebbles everywhere.

One feature on the south side of Valley of Dreams caught my eye:  a triangular mudstone feature and a round rock about 60 feet apart.  For all I know, the rock might have been the caprock for the mudstone feature that fell off and rolled away.

Here's where they are in the satellite view:

As the sun was setting in the southwest (ah, so that's where all the clouds went) . . . 

I decided the triangle feature would make a good subject for a "blue hour" image.  (See previous post for more on "blue hour".)  So when the direct sunlight ended, I went to work, "walking around the teacup" to find the best composition.

I got some nice anticrepuscular rays, which are actually shadows projected on the sky from the clouds in the southwest (behind my camera position):

But as the light faded away, I found an angle I liked better for capturing the color and peacefulness of the "blue hour":

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