Scenes from a Colorado overflight

We recently did a bit of family travel — on our way from Denver to Phoenix, we were fortunate enough to have relatively clear skies and a late afternoon flight.  Perfect for some aerial twilight photography of various spots in Colorado and the four corners region of the U.S.

First up for you, Colorado Springs (top of frame) seen over the snow covered Rampart Reservoir, not far west of town.

Over the Rampart

Colorado Springs is one of those places I normally see while driving through (in this case, on I-25) — from that perspective, the mountains form a wall to the west of the city.  But from above, the fact that the mountains are essentially a (tall) rumpled plateau is much more evident.

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Spirits of the Ancestors

A muted, somewhat ghostly shot for you — from Upper Antelope Canyon in Arizona:

Spirits of the ancestors

A few things to note if you want to visit either Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon for photography:

  1. Only the upper canyon has nice, wide alcoves like this; also, it’s easier for people with mobility issues to move in, thanks to its relatively-wide sandy floor.
  2. You need to move fast (and get a little assistance from your guide) to get a shot of an alcove that doesn’t have other people in it — this is particularly true for the upper canyon.
  3. It helps to visit the upper canyon in the winter — you can see light rays in various places in Summer, and since this is well-publicized, the place is even more crowded then.
  4. The upper canyon has a two-way pedestrian flow (as opposed to the lower canyon, which has an entrance on one end and an exit on the other), so there can be jostling as people try to go their separate ways.

Indoor peak

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.

Indoor peak

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

Convoluted

An HDR view from Upper Antelope Canyon, near Page (Arizona), converted to black and white:

Convoluted

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.

The many faces of Church Rock

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:

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.

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Aspen turning — some post processing experimentation

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.

Aspen turning (original)

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:

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Up to the very top

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.

Up to the very top

Sitting on a dune ridge, looking even further “up hill,” I thought this was a striking sight.  A natural environmental abstract…

Leaving Albuquerque

On a recent trip to Albuquerque to take care of some family business, I managed to get aboard a very well-timed flight home on a “puddle-jumper” turboprop aircraft.

Leaving Albuquerque

As we headed north from the airport, the sun was just setting, so I got a nice mix of lighting colors.  And, of course, flying in a small aircraft means everybody gets a window seat.

For locals and the curious, the Osuna interchange with I-25 is about at the image’s center (I-25 runs from the bottom right corner toward left center).

Morning comes to Flores

Sunrise in Flores, Guatemala:

Morning comes to Flores

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.