photography from the ground up

Archive for December, 2009

Ojito Petroglyphs

These petroglyphs are the most extensive in the Ojito Wilderness. This is just one of several panels which are scattered along the edge of a mesa in the southeast corner of the wilderness. I had seen photographs of them, and heard about them, but research into their whereabouts was sketchy. It’s like an unwritten rule that you have to work a little to find them. That’s as it should be. When I stepped onto the ledge where they are inscribed, I felt a sense of accomplishment; I didn’t exactly stumble upon them, but no one showed me the way.

The petroglyphs are estimated to be about one thousand years old. I try to imagine an artist from that time using his tools to etch these stories into the rock. The landscape was probably not much different than it is today, and as I stood there looking out across the land to the west, I felt a connection to him. Through his drawings, I caught a glimpse of a fellow man long departed from this world.

Equipment: Nikon D200, Nikkor 17–35 mm f2.8 zoom lens, circular polarizer, Bogen tripod.

Camera Settings: f 16, 1/20th sec., ISO 100

Processing: White balance, contrast, clarity, vibrance, and saturation adjustments in Adobe Lightroom, curves and RAW conversion in Photoshop.


Egg Garden Revisited

Here is another image of the Egg Garden at the Bisti Badlands. There is something about being out in the middle of nowhere with no trails or signs to guide me–OK I did have a GPS and a topo map–that is very satisfying. Out of the nine designated badlands in the San Juan Basin, I have visited five: De–Na–Zin, Bisti, Lybrook, Ceja Pelon, and Ojitos. The next one on my list is Ah–Shi–Sle–Pah which is located between the Bisti/De–Na–Zin Wilderness and Chaco Canyon.

This photo shows more of the other–worldly rock formations in the Egg Garden. They look as though something just hatched, and may be feeding nearby.

Equipment: Nikon D200, Nikkor 17–35 mm f 2.8 zoom lens, circular polarizer, Bogen tripod.

Camera Settings: f22, 1⁄15th sec., ISO 100, RAW.

Processing: Contrast, clarity, vibrance, and saturation adjustments in Adobe Lightroom, curves adjustment, and RAW conversion in Photoshop.


Twisted Juniper

This image was made in the Ojitos Wilderness, which is less than a one hour drive from my front door. It is an extraordinary place: hoodoos, petroglyphs, incredible vistas, and a forest of dwarf Ponderosa Pines at the lowest altitude they can be found…anywhere. There is also an abundance of piñon and juniper trees. I found this juniper just begging to be photographed on our last hike in Ojitos.

We had passed it on the way into what’s called The Hoodoo Pines hike, and i made a couple of exposures, but the light wasn’t right. On our way out, the sun was low, and the light much better, so I made one more exposure, and this is the result. Sometimes being patient and waiting for the light to change can reward you with a much stronger image.

Equipment: Nikon D300, Nikkor 17–35 mm f2.8 zoom lens, circular polarizer, Bogen tripod.

Camera Settings: f 16, 1/80th sec., ISO 400

Processing: Contrast, clarity, vibrance, and saturation adjustments in Adobe Lightroom, curves adjustment and RAW conversion in Photoshop.


Tumbling Hoodoos

This image was made on my way home from a trip to the Bisti Badlands. It is actually right on Hwy. 550. I was standing not thirty feet from the edge of the highway when I released the shutter. I had noticed this area several times in the past, and thought it would make a good photo; but, sometimes it’s hard to overcome the inertia of a vehicle moving along at 70 mph!

The large brown boulders at one time were the caprocks of hoodoos which have, over the ages, deteriorated to a point at which they could no longer hold the weight of the rocks. So, down they came. I know this because there are more hoodoos close by that are still intact with their caprocks balanced jauntily on top.

Equipment: Nikon D200, Nikkor 17–35 mm zoom lens, circular polarizer, Bogen tripod.

Camera Settings: f 22, 1/4th sec, -0.33 EV, ISO 100.

Processing: Contrast, exposure, clarity, vibrance, and saturation adjustments in Lightroom, Curves adjustment in Photoshop


Roadside Geology

I made this image on my way to Pagosa Springs. We had three days of soaking in the springs, hiking, and other assorted activities planned, and I was getting into the spirit of the trip by meandering my way to our destination. I was driving up NM 537 which runs from US 550 up to US 64 near Dulce; it passes through the Jicarilla Apache reservation along the way, and is quite a relaxing drive–no traffic.

I was almost to the junction at Hwy 64 when this hillside caught my attention. The colors, and the erosion patterns in the clay are what really made it stand out. The side–lighting accentuated the mini–crevasses which had been carved into the hill by runoff, giving the whole scene this amazing visual texture.

Equipment: Nikon D300, Nikkor 17–35 mm zoom lens, circular polarizer, Bogen tripod

Camera Settings: f11, 1/100th sec., ISO 200

Processing: Contrast, clarity, vibrance, and saturation adjustments in Lightroom, curves adjustments in Photoshop


Organ Yucca

Another one from my archives. This photo was made while I was visiting my daughter Susan in Las Cruces. The clouds looked as though they were crawling over the Organ Mountains. I drove out into the desert East of town until I found a good spot, and set up my camera and tripod, and made six exposures.

I also made a landscape (horizontal) version.

I’m still trying to decide which one I like best. Any thoughts?

Equipment: Nikon D200, Nikkor 17–35 mm zoom lens, circular polarizer, Bogen tripod

Camera settings: f13, 1/125th sec., ISO 400

Processing: Contrast, clarity, vibrance, and saturation adjustments in Lightroom, Levels adjustments in Photoshop.


A Chorus Line

These three Sandhill Cranes, two males on the left, and a female looked like they were performing in a chorus line; their movements seemed to be synchronized. They had just landed in a field north of Chupadera Pond, and were warily approaching a group which had already taken up residence in the water. Each step they took, they took together. The bird on the far left was doing all the talking. I guess he was the choreographer.

Equipment: Nikon D200, Nikkor 80–400 mm zoom lens, Bogen tripod.

Camera Settings: f11, 1/250th sec., ISO 400.

Processing: Contrast, clarity, vibrance, and saturation adjustments in Lightroom, curves adustment in Photoshop.


Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch is located in a remote part of Arches NP called The Devil’s Garden. The trail will eventually lead you to eight arches; it is difficult in places with a lot of scrambling over slickrock, and exposure to heights. We set out expecting to have plenty of time to make the entire 7.5 mile loop, but we had just made it to Landscape Arch (the third arch along the trail) when a thunderstorm moved in bringing snow and rain. I had just enough time to make a couple of exposures before packing my gear into my waterproof backpack to start the hike back to the car. Luckily we were only a little over a mile from the trailhead, and had sufficient wet weather gear to keep us, and my cameras warm and dry.

Equipment: Nikon D200, Nikkor 17–35 mm f 2.8 zoom lens, Bogen tripod

Settings: f 22, 1/6th sec. ISO 320

Processing: Contrast, vibrance, clarity, and saturation adjustments in Lightroom, curves adjustment in Photoshop.


Canada Geese

This image was made on our last day at the Bosque. We were on the farm loop just north of the connector when we spied this group of Canada Geese. They were fun to watch, it was as if they were on stage putting on a show for an audience (which they were actually). I made about twenty exposures, most of them more tightly framed than this one, but this is my favorite.

Equipment: Nikon D200, Nikon 80–400 mm zoom lens, 81A warming filter.

Camera settungs: f 22, 1/25th sec., ISO 400.

Processing: Contrast, clarity, vibrance, and saturation adjustments in Lightroom, curves adjustment in Photoshop.


Dining Out

This image was made on the evening of our last day at Bosque del Apache. Once again, the sky was overcast, and the setting sun, through the clouds, cast a warm glow over the multitude of cranes which had gathered at one of the ponds along State Road 1 just on the edge of the refuge. It had rained and snowed for most of the day, so the packed earth at the edge of the ponds had become sticky with mud.

There were very few people–probably the fewest I’ve ever seen–watching the evening flight. There were one or two other photographers, and a handful of birders and tourists. As I studied the scene before me, I noticed that the birds were paired up, almost as if they were out for an evening of dining and dancing–actually they were dining and dancing. All of the images I made of them dancing weren’t very sharp; the light was low and my shutter was slow, so here’s one of them dining.


Washer Woman

This is another image I rescued from my archives. It was taken two years ago when I was at Canyonlands. Earlier I posted a photo named “From Mesa Arch”, and this formation is visible in that photo as well. This is just a different perspective, with more emphasis on the Washer Woman. In the other image, Mesa Arch is the main subject, in this one it serves as a frame for the subject.

The area around Moab, Utah is famous for its unusual formations, and breathtaking landscapes. I’m planning to return soon; there are countless scenes like this one that inspire a love and respect for the natural world, and I’d like to lend my interpretation to them.

Equipment: Nikon D200, Nikon 17–35 mm zoom lens, circular polarizer

Camera settings: f 18, 1/40th sec., ISO 320

Processing: Contrast, vibrance, clarity, and saturation adjustments in Lightroom, curves adjustment in Photoshop.


Bosque Dream

This image is one of very few that I have ever made at Bosque del Apache NWR that doesn’t have a crane, or at least some kind of bird in it. We were driving the loop on the second day, and we hadn’t seen very many birds of any kind. We were just drifting along at a steady 10 mph keeping an eye open for anything to photograph.

Just as we were coming to the connector road about half way through the loop, I saw this scene out the driver’s window. I had driven past this place many times before, but it had never had this dreamlike quality about it. The light was beautiful, and the clouds cloaking the mountains in the background gave the image a very intimate feel. I made five exposures, and settled on this one as my pick.

Equipment: Nikon D200, Nikon 17–35 mm f 2.8 zoom lens, Hoya 81A warming filter.

Camera settings: f 22, 1/30th sec. ISO 500

Processing: Contrast, clarity, and vibrance adjustments in Lightroom. Curves in Photoshop.