Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Covid Respite #14, Part 1 - Valley of Dreams in Gold and Blue


                                                                               We translate the earth's language into our own . . . .

                                                                                                                    -- Hans Cloos, geologist

My friend, Alan, and I caught a mild day in early February -- they happen out here occasionally -- and decided it was a good day for another Covid Respite trip, this time to one of our regular haunts in the New Mexico badlands -- the Valley of Dreams -- for a "blue hour" shoot.

(If you're not familiar with the photography term "blue hour," read this, and see additional blue hour images here.)

I've been to Valley of Dreams multiple times with my photo buddies and with my son, Drew.  You can read about those trips as Covid Respites #7 and #8 (here and here), and an earlier visit in 2019 (here).

This trip, however, was specifically to capture some "blue hour" images of interesting features, along with whatever else might catch our eye.  In addition, I brought my drone for some aerial views of the landscape, which I will share in Part 2 of this post coming soon.

Valley of Dreams is a huge area filled with a jumble of geological features, including walls of mudstone capped by sandstone . . .

. . . walls eroded into hoodoos, surrounded by fallen caprock . . .

. . . and mudstone monoliths eroding into puddles of sand after losing the protection of their sandstone caprock . . .

(If you look closely at the image above, you can see all three stages in the scene.)

We arrived a couple of hours before sunset, and wandered toward an area that we thought might provide good features to photograph during blue hour, capturing scenes along the way:

The area we chose for our blue hour shoot was a series of small valleys surrounded by the walls of mudstone and caprock.  Here's what they looked like from above at golden hour:

I set up shop in the valley you see in the foreground; Alan went for the bigger valley in the center of the photo above.

While waiting for the sun to set, I spent some time flying my drone around my valley, across Alan's valley, and beyond.  I shot both video and still photos, learning what works photographically (and what doesn't).  I'll have more to say about that in my next post.

And, of course, during golden hour I "walked around the teacup" photographing features in the valley from ground level.

As the sun set in the southwest, shadows crept up the features until only the tops caught the last light:

And then, as it always does right after sunset, the light went flat:


It wasn't long, however, before the balance of light between ground and sky shifted and blue hour (or, really, blue half-hour) began.








At this point, we packed up and hiked about a mile in the dark (clear sky but no moon) back to our vehicles and headed for home.

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


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