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September 2016

On The Trail Of A Stereotype

When I first started out in photography, I was fortunate to find a great stock agency to sign on with.  The woman who ran it was very knowledgeable and provided tips on what to shoot and more importantly, perspectives from which to shoot.  On one of my early visits, I asked for a list of subjects.  Saguaro cacti at sunset was one of the items on the list.

When I returned about a month or two later with material to review, her response was less than enthused.  She accepted a couple, but then said, “Can you find a postcard cactus?”  “A What?” I replied.  “A postcard cactus – you know, one with one arm on each side, but one side slightly lower.”

I had never heard that expression before, but apparently in the early days of postcards, someone had taken a picture of this type of cactus that sold very well.  People then came to expect that all saguaro cacti looked like that.  The state of Arizona has one on their standard issue license plate, but the previous red license plate had the perfect stereotype.

So the entire request went something like this:  One saguaro cactus (of the postcard variety) without any others nearby…..close enough to recognize, but not filling the frame…..at the right angle so as to not cut off the base…..with generic looking mountains in the background…..and a spectacular sunset.  Right.

In my travels, I eventually spotted a couple of these elusive cacti, but they were always in some location that involved scrambling – something I didn’t want to do with a flashlight.  I was looking for “road kill“.  The top shot is as close as I ever came to the complete request.  Along the way, I encountered many beautiful, unique saguaros.  One of these ended up being my best selling stock photograph by a huge margin.

For this week’s Daily Post Challenge: Quest

Monochrome Madness: MM3-22

The first hints of pleasant temperatures have made it to the desert southwest, and before September 21st.  I’m sure that’s a mistake, but we’ll take it!

Autumn is a lot more reliable in the high country.  In those years where there aren’t any storm fronts and their associated winds, some forests can take on pretty spectacular colors.  The aspen trees are in the highest life zones, and the first to change color.  That’s usually a brilliant gold, but sometimes they can linger to deep oranges and reds.

This particular stand of aspens, mixed with the pines, is from the Kaibab National Forest, north of the Grand Canyon.  Although a major fire has devastated a large portion of that forest, it is still one great place to view the seasonal change. The contrast of the brilliant aspens to the other trees, along with a very clear sky makes for nice full days of hiking and photography.

This is my addition to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  You can check out her website here.

WPC: Edge

The Daily Post Challenge this week is Edge, and the first thing that came to mind was waterfalls going over the edge, but I haven’t come across too many that allow getting to this angle safely.

Lake Powell in southern Utah has more shoreline than the Pacific Ocean along the continental US.  In this early morning photo you can see the shoreline’s sinuous edges.

Lake Powell, Utah, shoreline, sunrise, Steve Bruno , gottatakemorepix

Sand dunes sometimes have well defined edges, such as this one shown here from Death Valley National Park, California.

Death Valley National Park, sand dunes, sunrise, Steve Bruno - gottatakemorepix

These massive boulders are hanging over the edge of a cliff along the drive up Mount Lemmon, just outside of Tucson, Arizona.

Mount Lemmon, Tucson, Arizona, rock formations, Steve Bruno, gottatakemorepix

There are few canyons in the desert southwest as impressive as Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly.  Spider Rock, shown here at the edge of darkness, can only be seen by walking to the edge of the canyon.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona - Steve Bruno - gottatakemorepix

Monochrome Madness: MM3-21

Bristlecone Pines.  The ancient forest.  These majestic trees can live to be 5000 years old, and only grow at the highest elevations just below tree line.  This particular group is from the Spring Mountains, near Las Vegas, Nevada, at an elevation just over 10,000 feet.  Many of these can be twisted with stunted growth, usually on an exposed ridge where the dominant winds have a long term effect upon them.  The overall straightness and height of this group made me stop for a photo.

This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  You can see the work of other’s on her site, as well as instructions on joining the challenge.

WPC: Mirror

This week’s Daily Post Challenge theme is Mirror, and as with many bloggers, I have photos of calm bodies of water. Who can resist pointing the camera towards nature’s reflections?  Those weren’t the only ones I came across, and I realized I have more of these than I initially thought I would.  Here are some of my favorites.

I usually had my camera along with the dogs out for an excursion, and in these shots, I noticed some reflections.

In modern buildings, the glass surfaces almost always offer a mirrored image, and here are a couple favorites from Calgary, Alberta.

With that much volume of water in motion, large rivers seem like an unlikely place to find a mirrored surface. Despite that, early morning on the Colorado River in Marble Canyon in Grand Canyon, Arizona can look like this.

Colorado River reflections in Marble Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park - Steve Bruno - gottatakemorepix

In my backyard (relatively speaking), I have a couple spots I enjoy hiking in Red Rock Canyon, where I came across these mirrored surfaces.

One of my favorite places that I’ve ever hiked, West Clear Creek in Arizona, usually has a breeze moving through the canyon.  Early mornings can be very calm, and pools can be glasslike.

Mountain lakes with reflections appear to have proliferated my files without me being aware of it.  Here are some in that category.

One image that always made me look twice was this one from Coyote Buttes.  There is no water or reflection here, but I felt like the illusion was there.

Coyote Buttes, The Wave - Steve Bruno - gottatakemorepix

I have one photo of an actual mirror. This is the MMT (Multiple Mirror Telescope) at the Whipple Observatory on Mount Hopkins, Arizona.  During daylight, this telescope dish is tilted down and pointing northward.  This was around the summer solstice, and at sunset, when the sun was at its furthest point north.  As I walked by, this cool mountain air had a hotspot about 20 degrees warmer from the sun just grazing the edge of this dish array.  I can’t imagine the destruction if this thing were aimed in the slightest degree towards the sun.

MMT at Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, Arizona - Steve Bruno - gottatakemorepix

Finally, a little bit about the featured image.  That’s Saguaro Lake, on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona.  It’s usually a crowded place, especially in summertime.  This happened to be in winter, after a couple days of rain.  It’s a fairly sizeable body of water, and this reflection has to be a rare moment, and the absence of people, even rarer.  This photo will always have a special place in my memories.  It was the first one I ever had published.

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