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November 2015

Window Seat IV – Storm Front Sierra Nevada

The territory covered on the flight from Las Vegas to Seattle can be quite spectacular, and my recent trip along this route coincided with the arrival of a storm front that allowed me to capture some of my favorite images ever from the air.  We had passed Death Valley and still hadn’t reached full altitude when we came across this scene.  I probably would have been thrilled to be on the ground for this one, especially if I were close to one of the snow-capped ridges in the distant range.  Stepping back and seeing the whole picture can be good once in a while, and in this case, seeing below the clouds and the top of the approaching front made for a unique perspective I was glad I was able to photograph.

WPC: Transition

As the moon transitions through its phases, it completes a new cycle approximately every 29.5 days.  Along the way it crosses paths with some interesting terrain, such as here in the Superstition Wilderness, near Phoenix, Arizona.

In response to the Daily Post Challenge: Transition

Thankful for the little things

Video – Sunset over Red Rock Canyon, Nevada  11-26-2015

In a time when parts of the world are going through turmoil and grief, it’s easy to be thankful for what I have in my life. I hope I never take for granted having a roof over my head, good friends and family, my health, and simple things like a beautiful sunset. Peace.

Mid-week Mixings: Boulder Fields

On the drive between Las Vegas and Phoenix, there are a couple places worth stopping for photos, if the time of day is right.  Most people seem to have making this drive as fast as possible as their objective, and I can say that I’ve hardly ever seen another vehicle stopped for even a roadside picture.  Not far from the “town” of Wikieup, the highway goes through a boulder field that covers a couple miles.  Now that the temps are down, and the critters are mostly in hiding, it’s a great time of year to explore the possibilities here.

The top image I call Broken Heart rock.  A couple of other favorites are Split Rock and Snoopy Rock.  Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Split Rock-Steve Bruno
Split Rock in the desert of western Arizona. Photo by Steve Bruno.
Snoopy Rock-Steve Bruno
Snoopy Rock, in the desert of western Arizona. Photo by Steve Bruno.

Building Code

As I ventured around Seattle, I was fascinated with the patterns and textures of the buildings.  Maybe that’s because I live in a city that lacks older genuine buildings.  As with yesterday’s post, the lack of rain made all this possible.

I thought this place was supposed to be dark and gloomy

The day before I headed off to Seattle, I checked the NWS forecast – Rain 100%, or Rain Likely every day.  I didn’t think there would be much chance for photography, other than a few window seat shots (more on that to come).  Oh, there was some rain, alright (see previous post), but there was much more time when it wasn’t raining.

I think the biggest surprise was that there was plenty of autumn color still.  Much of the country has seen the leaves all go away, and this is when the lowest deserts are starting to peak.  Somehow Seattle, despite being this far north, and despite all the rain and wind, manages to hold on to autumn.

Autumn Seattle 01-Steve Bruno
Autumn afternoon view from airplane landing in Seattle. Photo by Steve Bruno.

It was evident that I would have a reason to take my camera out before the plane even touched down.  As soon as I was checked in, I grabbed my camera and started walking around.  I saw a small group of trees amidst the tall buildings that were in various phases of changing color.  I didn’t realize that I had stumbled upon Freeway Park.  Appropriately named, the park sits above the freeway running through downtown Seattle.  Many of the foliage shots I took were in this park.

November Rain

Most people think I’m crazy when I say I enjoy going to Seattle in November.  And that’s before I tell them I also enjoy walking around in this weather.  My attitude might be different if I spent months here, instead of just being a visitor.  I grew up in the Midwest, and remember long periods of dismal weather, and from that experience, I also remembered how to dress appropriately.

On this particular evening, I was walking around with just my phone in its Otterbox case.  The rain was coming down at a substantial clip, even for Seattle.  It rains much harder in the desert, but that’s usually for about five minutes.  After I took the shot above, it occurred to me that I should head back to my hotel and grab my real camera.  By the time I did, the rain had reduced to the standard drizzle.  It never did rain again at night while I was here.

Window Seat III – Above The Clouds

When I’m flying, I spend most of the time with my eyes peering out the window, fixated on the shapes of the landscape only available through an aerial perspective.  Every once in a while, it’s the clouds, not the land that captures my attention.

The photo above, was taken over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  In the absence of any features of the land, the shadows of the clouds stretched uninterrupted across the open water in the late afternoon.

Also in a late afternoon setting, the plane had turned perpendicular to the line of the sun, allowing for this lighting pattern on the top of the cloud layer. I’ve seen this effect on takeoffs and landings emerging through low clouds, but not from this height.

Clouds
Sunburst pattern on top of cloud layer. Photo by Steve Bruno.

Then there are the occasions when cloud layers become prominent, creating a depth as rich as any landscape.

Florida Clouds
Multiple layers of clouds off the coast of Florida. Photo by Steve Bruno.

 

Life’s A Beach

Last week I was in Florida again, and I had some time to try to capture images of the ocean.  In many parts of the world, there are rock formations in the water or dramatic cliff backdrops, which offer more options for composition.  The lack of any terrain made for more challenge, and the texture of the water became my primary focus.

In the top image, I converted it to b&w, and was mildly pleased with the result, but then decided to return the sky back to color in a new layer. I did make some minor cooling filter adjustments to the layer.  I was about to remove the ship because I didn’t feel it was close enough to add to the scene, but then decided to leave it for its sense of scale.

I am often intrigued by other photographer’s shots of powerful waves crashing explosively into rocky shorelines, but I never knew there could also be interesting detail in a one foot high wave breaking onto a sandy beach.  I’ve spent a lot of time using slow film in low light situations where blurred water results were common by default.   A fast lens/high shutter speed combination allowed for detailed captures, and is something I will look for more often in future photo shoots.

There was a significant amount of human activity, as one would expect.  One morning, this paraboarder was getting his workout, making several passes along the beach in front of me.  As I took one sequence of shots, a plane was taking off from the airport behind him.  Around the same time, a tractor was making a clean sweep of the beach.  The ocean is always busy churning out its natural waste, which doesn’t make for postcard beaches!

In the end, the shots I liked the most occurred where there was texture on the wet sand or in the rolling water.  One thing that doesn’t show up in the photos is the abundant humidity.  The sea breeze made it enjoyable, but anywhere away from that was not pleasant.  I’m very glad to be back in the desert now.

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