On our trip to Iceland this January, we got to see a new perspective on a subject we’ve had earlier experiences with — lava tubes. Formed when lava flows crusted over and subsequently drained, we’ve walked through some in Hawaii — but never previously seen one in a colder clime.
So this is what happens near the Arctic Circle where there’s a lava tube “skylight” (localized collapse of the tube’s ceiling). Continue reading →
An HDR view from Upper Antelope Canyon, near Page (Arizona), converted to black and white:
I’ll be posting a longer comparison of Upper to Lower Antelope Canyon at a later date. For now, let’s just say that a walk through the Upper Canyon is a crowded experience — even in the “off-season,” even on a “Photo Tour.” So taking shots facing the sky is a good plan. In any case, the canyon is a unique experience, and always a reliable source of geological abstracts.
Over the holidays, my family took an old-school road trip down to Arizona to visit relatives. Along the way, we came across an interesting geological feature that I’d never even heard of before — an old, eroded bit of volcanic material called Church Rock:
Located 10 miles east of Kayenta, Church Rock (nicknamed after its supposed resemblance to a cathedral from some angles) is part of a whole string of interesting geological features in this part of the country. On the far horizon, you can see the chisel-shaped tip of Agathla Peak, in Monument Valley. I think the line-up of features makes a good composition, although something like a 16:9 crop would reduce the impact of the foreground nicely.
Recently, Topaz Software released the latest in their line of plugin and post processing software — Impression. The idea is that this software (which you can run stand-alone, or as a Photoshop plugin) can turn a photograph into something resembling a painting. And you can choose from approximations to any of a number of painting styles, with lots of things to tweak. It’s available at a discount through the end of the month, so I thought I should download it and a trial code and give it a spin.
My raw material was this shot of aspen trees turning — I took it last weekend down in the San Juan mountains thinking it’d make nice wallpaper for my various gadgets. Starting off with one of Impression’s “Van Gogh” presets and tweaking a bit, I rendered the original into this:
This past weekend, I happened to drive through the San Luis valley (south central Colorado), and so was able to wiggle a bit of free time loose in order to see sunrise at Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Sitting on a dune ridge, looking even further “up hill,” I thought this was a striking sight. A natural environmental abstract…
We didn’t get to spend much time in Flores on our autumn trip to the Yucatan — really, just a night sandwiched between the ruins of Tikal and our flight east to Belize. But we had a great night on the island, and were greeted in the morning by this amazing sunrise.
The original part of Flores (where we stayed) is an island in Lake Peten Itza — it was once the last Maya holdout (from the conquistadors) in the Yucatan peninsula. Now the island is connected to the mainland by a causeway, and the town of Flores covers more ground there than on the island.
Along with all the amazing ruins, the ancient Maya site of Palenque also offers some really nice waterfalls not too far from the site center. Dubbed the “Queen’s Bath,” it’s actually a series of waterfalls with terraces. It can be a really amazing thing to see and photograph.
But can it ever change its appearance with the seasons.
Our most recent trip to Palenque was timed to fall just after the end of the wet season, in early December. Enough water was flowing in the Otolum creek to give the Queen’s Bath some life:
Note that this is a 1/13 second exposure, so you can see that you can get some nice blurring of the water without a tripod (note that you can’t use a tripod in the ruins without a permit requiring paperwork in advance, etc.). At least, an exposure like this will work if your camera or lens offers image stabilization.
For comparison’s sake, here’s a shot taken from nearly the same spot two years earlier (but at the end of the dry season, in mid-May):
A few nights ago, we took advantage of a warmer night to check out the “Blossoms of Light” display at the Denver Botanic Gardens. They put on a nice show, as always, and it hasn’t been as warm since — so, fortunate timing.
I took this shot toward the north end of the gardens; with the lens closed down to f/22, a nice long exposure erased the slow parade of other viewers along the path…