Saturday, April 27, 2013

White Sands National Monument - Sandscapes

These have to be some of my favorite images ever.  Whenever I saw images like this in the past, I always thought that the photographer must have manipulated them, because I just couldn't imagine this type of perfection just sort of "being" in the world.  However, that was before I visited White Sands and saw this for myself. I wish I could take even partial credit for this beauty, but this is all Mother Nature, with absolutely no enhancement on my part!

I love the sort of vast feel to the above image, with the sand ripples leading up to what looks like a sharp crease in the dunes.  Amazing what the wind & sand can do when they work together! 

I thought these creases, or ridges looked like duplicates of each other.  Too perfect to be real, but they are!

This image seems so abstract, it kind of reminds me of a Georgia O'Keefe painting, not that I'm comparing myself to her!!  She's too fabulous for that!  It just captures that same sense of flow and peace and perfection that she conveyed in her paintings.

This last image really accentuates the ridges/creases created by the wind.  I just love the flowing line thru the image and the shadows created by the early morning light.

White Sands National Monument - Sparser Vegetation

I've often seen photos of one piece of life growing in a setting that seems very sparse and wondered where the photographer managed to find such scenery.  Well, I don't know if all of those photos I've seen over the years were taken at White Sands, but it certainly is a place where one can capture some breathtakingly beautiful images of some very sparse vegetation!  Take a look - 

One of the things I really like about this image are the different lines throughout the image.  There are the obvious lines of the desert grass, the 2 horizontal lines formed by the different levels of dunes and the lines created by the wind against the sand (in the very foreground of the image).  From my description, it sounds like this would be a very "busy" image, but, as you can see, it's incredibly soothing and peaceful.

Here's another image of that same little clump of desert grass, shifted over a bit.  In this image, the foreground texture is still visible, but you can see a bit more of the landscape of the dunes and the soft lines the dunes create.  They almost look like waves, don't they.  The mountains in the distance are, I believe, the San Andreas.

In this last image of my little desert grass, I've backed off a bit from the first image to give you a sense of the vastness of this incredibly white sandy desert.  This sounds a bit odd, I know, but White Sands reminds me a bit of Antarctica in terms of the stark beauty of it.

I thought this image created a little bit busier feel because in addition to the dried grass in the foreground, you can see some more gentle slopes of the dunes in the middle of the image, and a soft little sand eddy up top.  This was all created by the wind as it shifts the sand around.  I can see visiting here again and again, because it will always be subtly different each visit due to the shifting of the sand.

A bit more vegetation in this image, but I included it in this post because my focus is always drawn to the dried grass in the foreground, with the long shadow it casts due to the early morning light.  Also, I love the more pronounced ripple of the sand in this shot.

Camping at Oliver Lee State Park

This past weekend, we went camping down in Alamogordo, New Mexico at a state park called Oliver Lee State Park.  Here are just a few of the great views from our campsite!

As I look in one direction from our campsite, I'm looking up at what I believe are the Sacramento Mountains.  What a majestic view!

In the opposite direction, I was able to capture the rays of the sun at sunset as they silhouetted this tree.  I love the way you can see all the leafy branches - looks almost lacy, in a way.
I couldn't resist sharing this image.  See the "little dot" in the upper right area of the photo (in the sky)?  That's actually the moon in the sky during early afternoon!  I don't often see that, so I thought it was worth sharing!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

White Sands National Monument - Vegetation and Shadows

These images were all taken on a couple of the "trails" at White Sands.  The early morning sun was just wonderful to capture the stark beauty of the place.....and the delicate colors that are on display there.

I really liked the way the sun gently lit the gentle rolling dunes and the grasses that grow there.  

What a soft, gentle way to start the day......

I just love how majestic this one yucca plant and dried bloom looked set in the dunes.

I also really was surprised by the amount of color there was on the dunes.  The tones were very subtle and muted, but color was most definitely there.

White Sands National Monument - Jeff & Miki

This was one of my favorite places to visit on this camping trip, and is one of our "bucket list" items - White Sands National Monument!  Jeff was great and got up really early one morning so we could be there during the early morning light, which is one of the great times for photography!  These are the fun shots of Jeff & Miki!

Here's an image of Jeff on one of the dune trails, and I use that term lightly, since the wind there keeps shifting the sands around.  It gives you just a bit of an idea of how big this area is.  This particular shot is really just a tiny, tiny piece of the entire sandy monument, and look how small Jeff is in comparison!

Miki just loved racing around on the dunes!  She was a bit confused, tho, because she couldn't find the water!!  I keep telling her she has the best life of all her puppy siblings, and I think she'd definitely agree with me on this morning!

Jeff decided to challenge Miki to a race up the dunes - not the best challenge he's ever issued to anyone!!  He jokingly said it took him about 120 steps to get up this dune and only about 30 steps to go down it!

The sand dune version of  Rocky - is this Rocky XII or something?

I think you know who won the race down the dunes.......

Space Museum - Alamogordo, NM

Another place we visited during our camping weekend was the Space Museum in Alamogordo, NM.  One of the cool things that I didn't get a shot of was Jeff flying the space shuttle simulator - altho the controls were quite sluggish, he did manage to land us safely!  Here are some other cool things we saw there -

Here was an actual space crew capsule from the Apollo space program.  Altho it was fairly decent sized, when I thought about 3 folks being in it for any length of time, it seemed rather small and cramped.  Oh, well - I guess that comfort wasn't really the point!

This piece was interesting.  It's a piece of a German V2 rocket from World War II, that tumbled out of space and landed not far from the museum here in New Mexico!  Altho it is quite beat up, it was cool to be close to something from WWII built by our enemy (at least for that war).

This was a rocket used by the Army.  I just really liked the clean lines and the way it looked against the blue, blue sky.

It was cool to be able to stand this close to one of the rocket boosters from the Gemini rockets.  I really like the pattern of it, and may try manipulating this image into some cool background paper for my art.  I'll bet those engineers didn't even consider that when building this!

This is a view of the inside of a Saturn V rocket engine - again, I was able to get really close to it.  I just loved the pattern of this, and once again, this may find its way into my art.  I know, those engineers who developed this are probably rolling over in their graves.....or I'm sending them there!  It's just so cool, tho!

Driving Around Cloudcroft

On one of the days of our camping weekend, we decided to explore up in the Sacramento Mountains, around a town named Cloudcroft. Take a look at the images -

We pulled into a scenic overlook area and I got this shot looking down from about 9,000 feet.  The white band across the image is White Sands National Monument.  It looks so far away, but it was really just a short Jeep ride! 

We also spotted some deer munching on the greenery on the side of the road.  There were actually quite a few, but most ran into the trees as we approached.  This one little guy was more curious than afraid!

One of the things I love about New Mexico is the diversity of views and vegetation.  Love these tall pine trees - and it smelled great, too!

Here was a piece of history - the remainder of a trestle from a train that used to run up the mountains into Cloudcroft.  There's a trail to hike so that you can approach this up close, but we didn't do that this time - next visit we will, tho!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Here are some images that I've made so far in April.  I just added a few quotes that I found that add some inspirational thoughts. 

"Man masters nature not by force but by understanding."
 - Jacob Bronowsky

"Let others worship the past; I much prefer the present, am delighted to be alive today."
 - Ovid

" Believe in something larger than yourself."
- Barbara Bush

"You must not blame me if I talk to the clouds."
 - Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Morning Walk in the Airpark

Seemed like a lovely morning for a walk with Miki and a lovely morning for some great photos, too!

 I was just thinking that a plane taking off during the sunrise would be a pretty cool shot, when one of our neighbor's obliged!  I think this image just captures the freedom of flying!

Great shot of some leftover blooms from last year, silhouetted against the morning sky.  It looks like this was meant to be a black & white shot, but it wasn't.  The lighting was just very cool.

And, finally, this fun shot from our walk!  I just love these 2 dogs that belong to our neighbors!  Jack (big white dog) is a standard poodle who LOVES to jump up - I sometimes wonder if he wasn't named after the kid's toy, a Jack in the Box!  I can never remember the little guy's name (mentally, I call him Little Jack), but he just keeps imitating his big "brother", altho he can't jump nearly as high.  But, if Jack's jumping, then little Jack is sure to follow him!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Antiques or Junkers??

On the way back home from our Salinas Pueblo exploration, we drove past a junk yard that held a couple of photo op's that I couldn't resist.  Jeff was good enough to turn around, and I was able to capture these images......

These first 2 (above and below) re actually of the same "classic" car - I just couldn't decide which enhanced version I like better, so I thought I'd include them both, and let you decide!  I just loved the skeleton of it, and especially what's left of the front seat!!  I would have loved to get closer to get some really cool close-up shots, but there were "no trespassing" signs up, so I decided not to climb thru the barbed wire fencing!

The image below is of some piece of old farm equipment.  I thought it was a plow of sorts, but Jeff thinks it was something that sort of "combed" the field to get at the lose grasses, etc.  Whatever it really is, I thought it was just too cool to not photograph!  I like the lighting this enhancement gave to the equipment (you can click on the image to make it bigger).


Salinas Pueblo Missions - Abo

Jeff and I went exploring not far from where we live, near Mountainair, New Mexico, to check out one of the Salinas Pueblo Missions, the one called Abo.  There are 2 other missions, and hopefully, we'll get to explore them on future Jeep explorations!  This mission was built and lived in by both the Anasazi and Mogollon  peoples over 300 years ago.  They had been raided by the Apaches, and altho the mission survived those raids, it could not survive drought and famine that resulted, and so the mission was abandoned in the 1670's.

The above image is of Jeff exploring the foundations of several of the structures that were in front of the mission church (the tall structure).  This particular mission was discovered in 1853, almost 200 years after it had been abandoned. 

I took the above photo from inside one of the rooms of the mission church.  Altho we're certain that the stones have been reinforced by modern methods to allow it to remain standing, we think the wood braces may very well be original.  With the dry climate we have here, wood rot is not very common at all.

This is a close up shot of the wood that's found in key structural places throughout the mission church.  I thought the texture was really amazing, and enhanced this image a bit so that it can be seen better.
The above image is of an ancient, dry river bed that runs just behind the mission church.  This is actually rock and the river water that used to run over it created the pattern, so that we can tell today which way it flowed.  Amazing to think that this has survived for over 300 years.

I took this image standing in that old river bed,  so I could capture just how close the water supply was and had to be for these missions to live and thrive.  The back wall of the mission church is what you see, and the second floor of the church seemed to be primarily the choir loft.  Altho you can't see it in any of these photos, there are remnants of the portions of the stairs going up to the loft that were stone inside the church structure.  However, the wood portions of the stairs appeared to have been knocked down as the church walls fell over the years.  Being here and seeing this really makes history come to life for me.  Hopefully, these images will do the same for you.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Few Days in April

The last few days have been great in terms of morning walks and photo ops.  Take a look.....

The above shot was actually taken from our back patio.  I love the ring around the sun as it was coming up over the horizon and the way the clouds above were back lit.  Everything was so incredibly golden.....

This photo was taken a day or two later, when we were having one of our pastel sunrises.  I like the play of the clouds in this one.....

Not all of our trees are budding yet, and this one wasn't, but it was quite full of birds (don't know what kind, tho).  I really liked the silhouette effect against the morning sunrise sky....

All birds but one left the tree, and when I processed this image, it looked like it just needed to be in black & white, so I just removed all color from it.  The bright white off to the right was the sun...