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October 2016

WPC: Transmogrify

On the big island in Hawaii, volcanic eruptions have changed the look of the land, but there is one spot that was changed in a unique fashion.  In 1790, lava flows swept through this area near Pahoa.  Unlike slow flows that burn everything in site, this flow was swift, and wrapped the trees without destroying them instantly.  The trees eventually did die, leaving these lava forms (and many others) standing instead.

From Lava Tree State Monument, Hawaii for this week’s Daily Post Challenge of Transmogrify.

Monochrome Madness: MM3-28

A couple days ago, I was visiting my mom, and couldn’t help notice she had a couple cacti in bloom in her yard.  Seemed out of place for late October, but it has been warm, and I’m sure she waters them from time to time.  One flower was within reach and photogenic, but I wanted a different approach.  There was no way for me to get behind this one, so I shot it like a selfie.  In a couple frames it was a selfie.  I was composing by just looking at the shadow of the flower across the lens, then realized I had to duck while maintaining the composition.  I suppose I could have set up a wireless card and a tablet, but that seemed like too much effort.  I got this shot without having to delete a bunch.

This is the photo that Leanne Cole has placed on this week’s Monochrome Madness.  You can check out her website to see other’s contributions and instructions to join in.

Sky Full of Angels

Recently, I purchased a new (to me) lens off eBay – a manual focus Pentax 50mm f1.4.  My sample shots in broad daylight close to home proved to be stunningly sharp with no undesirable effects.  A couple nights ago I was driving through the desert with the moon yet to appear, and stars prominently on display.  This seemed to be a perfect chance to see what the lens could do.  On one side of the highway was a set of power lines with large towers, so I aimed the camera that direction to see how those would come out.  Then I turned the camera the other direction, and further upward.  I checked focus after taking the shots, and everything seemed good, considering I was shooting wide open, or stopped down a half-stop.  When I looked at the shots on the computer the next day, these strange winged shapes appeared in one corner of the frame, but did not occur throughout the frame.  Chromatic aberration, or a result of the aperture setting?  Or captured spirits?

WPC: Shine

It was really one of those days when you don’t want to be outside – a late spring day on the Colorado Plateau.  With a cold front sliding by to the north, winds were a constant 45mph and gusting in the 60s.  Yet, the sun was still out.  Every loose particle of dust from Barstow to Albuquerque was on the move.  I was driving near Page, Arizona so I thought the shelter of Antelope Canyon would be a good place to hide out for a while.

There had been a tour group going through, so another photographer and I just stayed back a ways.  The sun only has a few minutes each day to pinpoint its way through the narrow opening of the canyon.  As it did on this particular day, the wind gusts were picking up nearby sand and depositing it in the canyon.  In the three exposures I took, I can see the movement of the shaft of light.  I also had to blow sand off my lens between exposures.  Mostly, we were thankful the tour group did not return at this moment.

I was using a large format film camera, with slow film, and the aperture stopped down for depth of field.  Even though this is the brightest light I have ever seen in Antelope Canyon, that all translates to long exposure.  Similar to long exposures of moving water, it took several seconds for the swirling dust to fill the shaft of light.  Had today’s digital cameras been around back then, I could have taken this with a higher ISO and lower f-stop and perhaps captured this as Peter Lik did in his “Phantom”.  Some of you may recognize this location from “Phantom” – a work that Peter Lik supposedly sold for $6.5 million.

This has been my second best selling print, but if someone wants it in a wall sized b&w, I would close the edition and let it go for a mere million.

For this week’s Daily Post Challenge of Shine

Monochrome Madness: MM3-27

When people think of autumn color, they usually think of places like the northeastern US or Smoky Mountains.  Here in the southwest, we get our seasonal change in patches, rather than sprawling hillsides.  That usually means canyons, and one of the best displays for autumn is Zion National Park, Utah.  Perhaps it’s the tall canyon walls protecting the trees from the winds that could drop the leaves before the colors peak, but conditions are very favorable here for a great autumn display.  And just because the scene is alive with color, it doesn’t mean you need to be capturing it that way.  The original for this was captured on Kodak Pan-X 4×5 film.

This is my addition to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  Photos from others as well as instructions to join in can be found on her website.

October Moon

Last night, just before I thought I was going to bed, I stepped outside to take a look at the clouds and enjoy the fresh breeze.  The motion of the clouds passing in front of the moon was fascinating, and I knew I had to go inside and grab my camera.  My DSLR shoots really good video, but I also brought out my basic Sony camcorder.  The camcorder does well in low light, even though it has the smaller sensor.  I had a feeling the breezes were going to shake the long lens I was going to use on the camera.

I’m amazed at digital technology in that I can take a decent shot of the moon hand-held with a long lens.  The results improved when I put it on a tripod, but they were still very acceptable without.  As I suspected, I didn’t get any lengthy videos without vibration on the DSLR videos.  This one is from the Sony, and in real time.  Just in time for Halloween!

WPC: Local

There’s nothing I’d want to take a picture of in my neighborhood, but I can see this mountain clearly from my windows.  For this week’s Daily Post Challenge of Local, I present to you a place I know by heart.

I was out here last week on a trail I have taken several times before.  Back to the bristlecone pines, the ancient forest.  As another dry year passes, and more people venture into the area, I am thankful there have been no major fires here.  It seems there are no “helpful” fires any more – the kind that sustain a forest – just large devastating ones.  In a normal winter, there will be snow lingering on this trail into May.  I am hoping for a normal or above normal winter, but that doesn’t seem very likely….again.  In the meantime, I try to get out to my local hangouts whenever I can.

Monochrome Madness: MM3-26

Last week I had a chance to return to my muse, Valley of Fire State Park.  I had planned to be there for the first light of sunrise, but an accident on the highway had everybody crawling along for a while…before 6am.  When I arrived at the park, the clouds had incredible depth and the first wave of color was ablaze.  The fact that I arrived late turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  My plan was to capture the sunrise further into the park, but I explored in this area instead.  I had been near this small arch before, but never stepped into this spot.  It’s rare when I can’t decide if I prefer a photograph in color or b&w, but I love this shot both ways.  Image captured with in-camera hdr, then simple conversion to b&w.

The color original:

small arch in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada. Photo by Steve Bruno at gottatakemorepix

This is my addition to Monochrome Madness this week on Leanne Cole’s site.  See what others have posted here.

WPC: H2O

Canyon hikes are some of the best adventures in the desert southwest.  Some of these have year round water, and in those cases, no trail.  Much of the time will be spent hiking in the water, which is quite refreshing on hot days.  I always felt safe in the water with my guard down, and looked more alertly for the dangers along the rocky canyon bottoms.  That all changed at the moment of this photograph.

I was standing in the waters of the San Francisco River in eastern Arizona.  I had my large camera on a tripod in a spot about a foot deep in the river.  I was talking with my hiking partner when we both heard the disruption in the water behind me as though a fish had jumped up.  We both stood in disbelief as this rattlesnake slowly raised itself up on the ledge on the opposing bank.  We were on the shallow side of the river, but the snake had come out of a pool that was at least three feet deep.  We watched our steps everywhere after that!

The San Francisco River from a safer distance:

san-francisco-river-by-steve-bruno

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