photography from the ground up

Archive for October, 2009

Bisti Egg Garden

Egg Garden at Bisti Badlands

Bisti Egg Garden

The Bisti Badlands in northwestern New Mexico is home to countless hoo doos and other bizarre rock formations. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Not many people visit the Bisti, mostly outdoorsy types: hikers, photographers, eco–warriors, and the like.

This photo was taken last winter. We had to walk several miles, and use a GPS to locate the Egg Garden, so named because of the strange egg shaped rock formations that lie scattered about. Some are intact, others are cloven open as if some pre-historic or other-worldly creature had hatched from them.

That trip was supposed to be a two day excursion, but when we returned on the second morning, it was bitter cold, and snow was beginning to fall, so we retreated to the warmth of the car and went looking for a Starbuck’s instead. So much for the intrepid photographer!

Breaking Dune

Sand blowing from top of dune

Breaking Dune

This photo was made on my last trip to White Sands in May. I arrived about two hours before sunset, and was disappointed; I had thought I would find flowering yuccas everywhere, but found mostly dead stalks from last year’s blossoms.

As the sun sank lower in the sky, the side lighting began to bring out the texture and ripples on the dunes. I was driving along not far from the entrance when I spotted this dune. The wind was lifting sand from the crest, and the lighting was perfect, so I parked and grabbed my camera and tripod. I culled this image from about twenty exposures I made, and made curves, vibrance, clarity, and saturation adjustments in Lightroom and Photoshop.

In all, I managed to get eight “keepers” from  a little over two hours of shooting which is a pretty good haul considering the fact that I began the evening in a snit because mother nature hadn’t cooperated in meeting my expectations. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

Bosque Sunset

Sunset at Bosque del Apache NWR

Bosque Sunset

It’s almost that time of year again. Thousands of  Sandhill Cranes, Canada and Snow Geese, ducks, herons, and other assorted waterfowl will be making their annual migration to Bosque del Apache NWR. Coincidentally, thousands of non-winged visitors of the species homo sapiens will also be making their annual pilgrimage to the Bosque. They will be represented by several sub species: tourists, photographers, and bird watchers to name but a few.

I must admit that I will be among the throng. This will be my fourth year, and as the time draws near, I find myself anticipating the trip, visualizing all the photo opportunities that that will present themselves to my lens. So, just to remind myself what’s in store for me, and to show you if you’ve never made the journey, here is an image I made last year of Sandhill Cranes gathering at sunset in the lagoon.


Leaves on Snow


I have a thing about leaves. I am fascinated by them. There was a time when easily 80% of the images I made were of leaves. This is the last leaf photo I made; it was taken last winter. I found the composition attractive. I like the way the small leaf overlays the larger one, and the way they are somewhat sunken in the  crust of the snow.

The important thing in this shot was the framing. I used the rule of thirds and offset the main part of the larger leaf, and let the stem lead the eye down across the frame to it. I then spot metered the snow and opened up 1-1/2 stops to make the snow white. Post processing included curves, saturation, vibrance and clarity adjustments in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Sometimes just looking at your feet will yield a reward.

De Na Zin Sunset

Sunset aon sandstone formations at DeNa Zin Wilderness

De Na Zin Sunset

This photograph was made in the De Na Zin Wilderness, which is located northeast of the Bisti Badlands in northwestern New Mexico. We had stumbled around for several hours thinking that we were in the Bisti (our actual destination) when we came upon this small hill. The sun was low, and the light was sweet. I made quite a few exposures (I love digital!). This is the one I finally settled on, but the flat, cloudless sky really bothered me, so I just let it simmer for a few days.

When I came back to try to finalize the image, I was on the verge of giving up on it when I decided to try something a little different (at least for me). I usually try to keep my photos pretty much the way I capture them with not a lot of post processing beyond a curves adjustment, and maybe tweaking the exposure and saturation a little, but with this one I decided to desaturate just the sky–I had seen this technique used by a friend of mine, Ted Greer on a photo he made at Taos Pueblo with pretty impressive results–and I like the resulting image much better.