clouds

White Rocks/Teller Farms Open Space (A Photo Walk)

You never know what you are going to find on these photo walks. 

I was pessimistic as Dana Bove and I set out on this short trail just outside of Boulder, Colorado. But, eventually I managed to start “seeing” a few nice images–largely thanks to the handful of unusual lenticular clouds that came and went throughout the evening.

Examples…

Here, in an early attempt, I am playing with some compositional elements as best I can:

White Rocks, #6. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017
White Rocks, #6. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017

 

Looking for patterns in the cottonwoods, I came across a collection of nicely rhyming arches:

White Rocks, #8. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017
White Rocks, #8. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017

 

The two marshmallows were lovely, but the contrail in the lower left really helped make this one work even better than expected:

White Rocks, #10. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017
White Rocks, #10. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017

 

Finally, my favorite image in which three passing birds happened to come along at just the right time. Post-processing it with a high-key effect really helped make the high fliers stand out:

White Rocks, #11a. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017
White Rocks, #11a. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017

Desert Skies

Some color photographs from a few days ago…

The camera was the Sony RX-100iv and the location was the Babad Do’ag (Frog Mountain) Viewpoint just a couple of miles up the side of the Catalinas on the Mt. Lemmon Highway:

 

Often, the best light is well before sunrise. Those are the Rincon Mountains on the left and the Santa Rita Mountains, with Mt. Wrightson (9,453′), farther away on the right:

Desert Dawn. Near Tucson, Arizona, 2016
Desert Dawn. Near Tucson, Arizona, 2016

 

By actual sunrise, much of the color has gone away, but the texture of the sky is still quite attractive:

Desert Sky, #1. Near Tucson, Arizona, 2016
Desert Sky, #1. Near Tucson, Arizona, 2016

 

Always with my head in the clouds:

Desert Sky, #2. Near Tucson, Arizona, 2016
Desert Sky, #2. Near Tucson, Arizona, 2016

Cloudscapes and Equivalents

In honor of Alfred Stieglitz and his concept of “equivalents” (photographs made between 1925-1934), I’ll offer up some cloudscapes of my own for your free-form interpretation.

First, a quick and juicy Stieglitz anecdote:

Man (looking at a Stieglitz Equivalent): Is this a photograph of water?
Stieglitz: What difference does it make of what it is?
Man: But is it a photograph of water?
Stieglitz: I tell you it does not matter.
Man: Well, then, is it a picture of the sky?
Stieglitz: It happens to be a picture of the sky. But I cannot understand why that is of any importance.

The following images were made this very morning whilst feeling a bit peckish and awaiting a sunrise on the high peaks that never really developed. The clouds, though, shredded by the high winds ripping and rippling over the Rockies, offered a very satisfactory alternative subject while a crescent Moon played hide and seek.

 

Cloudscape, #1. Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Cloudscape, #1. Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

Cloudscape, #2. Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Cloudscape, #2. Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

Cloudscape, #3. Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Cloudscape, #3. Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

Cloudscape, #5. Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Cloudscape, #5. Boulder, Colorado, 2016

A missed sunrise and a chance meeting

Cumulo-Granticus. From Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015 (A type of cloud to be avoided if flying an aerospace vehicle of any kind.)
Cumulo-Granticus. From Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015 (A type of cloud to be avoided if flying an aerospace vehicle of any kind.)

 

I was up well before sunrise, checked the weather and peered up at the dark sky–but I convinced myself the conditions sucked for a sunrise photo sojourn what with the constant stormy weather and all…yadda, yadda, yadda… So, I was not anywhere but inside our small apartment when the sun’s rays started groping through the writhing clouds along the foothills. The high peaks on the Divide were poking through like beacons of divine white light.

Dang, I was missing it!

Once it was apparent that the sky and light was “happening”, I hurried up to one of my favorite perches, Sugarloaf Mountain, and made the summit by 7:30a.m. or so. And I did manage to capture a few nice scenes (as in the above), but likely nothing like what I would have found had I showed up at the start line at sunrise. Still I was somewhat lucky–just twenty minutes after hitting the summit, I was enveloped in grey mist (again, as in the above image). Whiteout!

After hiking back down the semi-bald Sugarloaf Mound, I did my usual patrol along Lost Angel Road, looking for light, form, and texture. I stopped at one point and photographed a nicely cloud-draped Bear Peak. It was then that I met a man of about my age or so walking a tiny, but elegantly-dressed and very friendly, curious canine.

It turned out he was a long-time (30+ years) Sugarloaf resident and a photographer himself–Willy Sutton, as he introduced himself. We had a pleasant chat about sunrise pictures from the Sugarloaf Mountain summit, rainfall, and photography projects, and then we were each on our way.

At home, after looking through the images on his websites (and his impressive CV), I discovered just how accomplished William S. Sutton actually is…and those Sugarloaf Mountain images I love to make suddenly seemed just a bit…well…small. (Sampling the CV: MoMA, Guggenheim Fellowship, exhibits dating all the way back to 1979, and so on.)

It never ceases to amaze me the talent of folks who live around here–Olympic athletes, Nobel Prize winners…and nationally recognized artists of which Mr. Sutton is one.

So, here are your links to explore:

William Sutton Photography

William S. Sutton and Michael P. Berman’s Wyoming Grasslands Project

Sugarloaf Strikes Again!

Sugarloaf Summit. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
Sugarloaf Summit. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015

Yesterday afternoon, I stayed for three hours on and around Sugarloaf’s marvelous mammarian summit and watched as the latest storm front dissipated into flowing wreathes of vapor, caressing the valleys and slopes of the foothills. Stronger winds up on the Divide lifted snow plumes high into the air over the big peaks above timberline and rippled the sky into cigar lenticulars.

Strangely, even though we had up to six inches of snow down in Boulder, the taller surrounding mountains barely received a powdered sugar sprinkling. (I had some Nordic skiing in mind as I drove up the canyon, but it became apparent that photography would be the best game in town as I saw the conditions.)

And speaking of games…Yes, ’tis true, as I stood through sunset in gloves and parka on Sugarloaf’s nearly bald mound, I was missing that other highly-touted game down in Arizona. I chose Nature’s much more subtle, yet arresting, TV show, vice the screaming and pounding of highly paid 300-pound men with no necks ringing each other’s bells and bellies as best they can and chasing around a potentially underinflated oblong of leather.

Which is real, I ask?

The day was a monochrome one, at least for my eye.

This was one of those days that was probably better in the actual experience of being there, rather than merely seen after the fact through photographs. It was very hard to capture its essence. The best I could do are these half dozen selected images:

James Peak Portrait. From Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
James Peak Portrait. From Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
Dual Lenticulars. From Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
Dual Lenticulars. From Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
Arapahoe to Kiowa Peak Area, #2. From Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
Arapahoe to Kiowa Peak Area, #2. From Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
Lenticular cloudscape, Sun, and Contrail. From Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
Lenticular cloudscape, Sun, and Contrail. From Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
Mountain Shadow and Moon. From Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
Mountain Shadow and Moon. From Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
A Tree on the Edge. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015
A Tree on the Edge. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2015