Monochrome Madness: MM3-42

Winter made a much better effort in the southwest this year than it has in several years.  A record high yesterday and several other warm days, however, tell me that I should be expecting spring soon.  Places in the desert have green beginning to emerge, but for a wildflower bonanza, we need the rains to continue.  No matter what the conditions, the trees always bloom, such as this redbud tree in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada.

This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  Instructions on how to participate, and the contributions of others can be found on her website.

WPC: Shadow

When I schedule my flights, I try to arrange them so that I’m taking photos near sunrise or sunset.  The colors are more saturated, and the shadows of even the smallest features become elongated.  For this week’s challenge of shadow, I immediately thought of being up in the skies looking down, and my photo comes from somewhere northwest of Las Vegas.

WPC: Solitude

When I first started venturing out on photographic journeys, I felt solitude almost immediately upon leaving the city.  Unless it was a holiday weekend.  Nowadays, finding a quiet space seems a little more difficult, but not impossible.  There are still places where I can hear the pulsing of a hawk’s wings, or a lizard moving upon the sands, or just plain silence.

Monochrome Madness: MM3-41

One of the great places to hike and take photographs in the southwestern US is Arizona’s West Clear Creek Wilderness.  Hiking becomes wading in many places, and swimming in a few.  Despite being in the middle of Arizona, there is a short season.  From July through August, there are many days when the thunderstorm threat makes this canyon a bad choice.  Mostly the short season is due to the cold, not the heat, and the fact that you will get wet at some point.  The longest of the pools is unswimmable, even at the end of summer, due to hypothermia risk.

For photography, the creek is more about pools than flowing water.  Mornings usually have the stillest air, and glass-like reflections can occur.  As the name implies, the water has a beautiful clarity to it, and the rocks in the creek bottom add to the subject matter.  The shot above is a mixture of the reflection from the cliffs above, and seeing to the rocks below.  I took this in early afternoon, and my timing was based on waiting for the passing clouds to produce shadow in the foreground while the cliffs remained lit.

This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week, and the theme of reflection.  You can see what others have come up with this week on her website, or join the madness yourself next time.  Instructions for participating are on her site as well.

Monochrome Madness: MM3-40

About a year ago, I finally took some time to stop in the Newberry Mountains of southern Nevada.  I posted some of the images in color, but never in b&w.  The landscape provided great texture, and I like this one in b&w more than the color original.

You can find this photo, along with the work of other photographers in Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  You will also find instructions in how to join in, if you’d like.

WPC: Graceful

A 2000 pound animal graceful?  Are you kidding?

There are 2 places in Arizona where you can find buffalo.  One of them, House Rock Valley Ranch, has no fences.  The Grand Canyon, Kaibab Plateau, and Vermillion Cliffs all form a natural perimeter.  With that much land to cover, don’t expect coming here for animal sightings.

On my first visit to House Rock Valley, I had my brother and his daughter along.  She got excited when she saw the sign about the buffalo ranch, but we let her know about the vastness of the property so her hopes were not too high.  We drove many miles out to where we set up camp overlooking Marble Canyon, then drove back slightly for another overlook.  When we came across a road junction which we had crossed not more than an hour before, there were 5 buffalo standing in the road.  Collectively, they easily outweighed my vehicle, so we just sat and watched.  After a minute or so, they got bored with the standoff, and started to move along the side of the road.  We drove slowly beside them, and then they picked up their pace.  We matched them.  They continued to pick up their pace, at which point I noticed we were driving 35mph.  We were on a fairly smooth road, they weren’t!  After about a minute of running with the herd, they peeled away until we lost sight of them.

A few years later I returned to House Rock Valley.  This time was specifically to cover the buffalo, and unfortunately, it was hunting season.  The herd’s numbers are maintained, and only a handful of permits are issued each year.  These buffalo know when it’s hunting season, and become scarce.  Rising from the valley at about a 45 degree angle, the Kaibab Plateau has some twisting, sheer walled canyons.  The buffalo traverse these canyons like bighorn sheep, and the hunters can’t follow. I met with the manager of the ranch, and he was full of information about these animals.  One story he relayed was about the animals’ ability to leave no trace.  There are no reliable water sources here, so they have placed water tanks about in several spots.  In hunting season, the buffalo will enter from one side, then step on a rock or clump of grass, get their drink, walk around to the other side of the tank, all the while being selective as to where they step, and not leave a track within ten feet.  Is it any wonder these animals were so revered by Native Americans?

Monochrome Madness: MM3-39

Now that winter snows have returned to the mountains of the southwest, the small streams that lie dormant much of the year are returning to life.  This one never really dries up, but this is a decent non-flood rate.  In the mountains east of Tucson, Arizona, my photo comes from the desert oasis of Tanque Verde Wash.

You will find this image, along with those taken by other photographers at Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  Instructions on how to participate are there as well.

WPC: Ambience

For this week’s Daily Post Challenge of Ambience, I tried to think of one place that captures the mood of the southwestern deserts.  Monument Valley, in the heart of the Navajo Indian Reservation, tops my list.  As with any location that is highly visited, there is the tackiness that comes with tourism.  But spend a day in this valley, and seek out moments of solitude.  If you happen to be here when the rains come through, you might be rewarded with sunsets like this.

Monochrome Madness: MM3-38

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon can be miserably hot in the early parts of summer, so many people find it surprising how miserably cold it can be in winter.  As with many canyons of the southwest, snow doesn’t stick to the sheer walls, so the layers are accentuated by the snow.  Even in relatively flat light, this adds depth to the scene.  Photos taken when winter storms are in the clearing process are some of the most dramatic I’ve ever seen of the canyon, and the temps are usually tolerable at that point.  Watch out for the days following, when wind chill factors can make it feel like Canada.

This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  Instructions on how to participate, and the contributions of others can be found on her website.

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