Rainbow Power Picture of the Week

Like a lot of photographers,  I shoot a lot more images than I show. Most of them never see the light of day. On each outing—like last week’s rain day—I’ll fire off 50 to 75 shots and when I transfer them to my computer, I’ll have one or two keepers—if I’m lucky. The first thing I do is to delete the mistakes immediately—you know, the accidental shot of my feet that I get when taking the camera out of the bag—or shots that are hopelessly out of focus. Then I look for the best. I really should get rid of the rest, but even though I may never look at them again, I keep them on file.

There are lots of reasons that I reject a photograph. The composition isn’t right, the focus is soft, or the shot didn’t work. As a landscape photographer, I have a thing about power lines. They’re everywhere, and I have to work around them. That means that I’ll drive or walk a bit to remove them from the scene.

Rainbow Power
Rainbow Power – A rainbow seems to rise from high power lines along the Joshua Tree Parkway in central Arizona.

And that brings me to this week’s featured image that I call Rainbow Power. No matter how much we grumpy old photographers groan about them, we still look at pictures of flowers, babies, kittens, and rainbows. We just don’t want to get caught doing it. This week’s image is one of those rejects that I kept returning to it because it shows the range of light last week’s fast-moving storm dragged along the Joshua Tree Parkway as it moved north. Besides, I think rainbows are pretty.

I’ll probably never print this image because of the power lines, but this rainbow was intense and seemed to disappear into the clouds then descend again to the left out of the camera’s view. Oh, and I missed the pink unicorn because it ran over the hill before I could frame the shot. Moments after snapping this image, even the rainbow disappeared. The weather was happening so fast that I didn’t have time to work it—trying different angles, different framing, or changing the site to eliminate the wires. All that I had time to do was capture the moment—warts and all.

You can see a larger version of Rainbow Power on its Web Page by clicking here. I hope you enjoy viewing this week’s post and next week; we’ll show another featured image from the Joshua Tree Parkway.

Until next time — jw

Pair of Threes

I’m all alone this week because Queen Anne has gone home to her sister’s because they made Christmas cookies this week, and Anne goes where the sugar is. For me, it’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the bleeding from my ears has stopped since the yelling ceased. The bad news is that I don’t have a copy editor this week, so this will be a short post. I don’t know how to spell all the big words she uses. She’s coming home on Thursday so things will be back to normal then. Pray for me.

Meanwhile back at the mines—or more specifically, San Domingo Wash where Anderson Mill is.

Back in the days when everybody used film—that’s the cellulose stuff you put in cameras to capture images before we used electrons—I was a stingy shooter. Because each frame cost a buck (sheet film was five-times that), I wouldn’t waste my money on something I wasn’t sure was good. Now that electrons are cheap (and the prices keep falling), I’ll snap just about anything that catches my eye. Often that shot turns out to be junk, but one out of a thousand deserves a second look. That’s how this week’s featured image happened.

Pair of Threes -Three saguaro along the ridge overlooking the San Domingo Wash where the Anderson Mill is. The three wispy clouds make up the pair.
Pair of Threes -Three saguaro along the ridge overlooking the San Domingo Wash where the Anderson Mill is. The three wispy clouds make up the pair.

If you’re the kind of person that lingers on every word that I write, you’ll recall that in my previous posts that the Anderson Mill structure is several stories tall and that the brothers welded it together as needed. In the short time that Fred and I were there, I wanted to poke around the different levels. Now, there are steel-treed stairs, but most of them didn’t have handrails. So I walked the truck paths that snaked up the hillside. It was at one of the switchbacks that I looked up and saw three saguaros along the ridge. Without thinking, I snapped the camera shutter and then dismissed it. When I saw that image on the computer, I knew I could use it because the clouds made the photo. I call this image Pair of Threes.

You can see a larger version of Pair of Threes on its Web Page by clicking here. I hope you enjoy viewing this week’s post and come back next week when we’ll show another featured image from San Domingo Wash.

Until next time — jw

BTW: Anne’s flight comes in after 11 pm. If you were a good friend, you’d pick her up … and keep her.

North Side Capitol Butte Picture of the Week

Seeing a photograph isn’t predictable. Sometimes you find a subject and wait for the light to be right as I did for the image Capitol Butte from a couple of weeks ago. Ansel Adams was notoriously patient about doing this. Sometimes he’d wait hours or days for the light to come in. Sometimes you see an image as you’re walking a trail and you drop to your knees to capture it. That’s what happened when I shot last week’s featured image Prickly Juniper. Sometimes a subject will show up through the car window and you’ll have to jump out of the car and grab it. That’s the story behind Ansel Adam’s masterpiece Moonrise over Hernandez. He saw the image forming through the windshield, stopped his car to set-up his view camera and had to calculate the exposure without a light meter. I’m not comparing the two photographs, but that’s also the story of this week’s featured image that I call North Side Capitol Butte—except for the light meter part.

North Side Capitol Butte
North Side Capitol Butte – A late afternoon sun adds a glow to Capitol Butte in Sedona, Arizona

I was driving into town from the hiking trail and I was paying attention at the light on Capitol Butte. While I was driving, I saw the butte framed between two trees, so I stopped the car and got out and moved in for the kill. This framing technique was very popular in the Hudson River School style of painting. The center subject is lit between two darker shapes to keep your eye from wandering off the canvas. The technique fell out of favor as the Impressionist began to gain popularity. Just because something’s no longer popular, there isn’t any reason you can’t drag it out of the closet now and then.

You can see a larger version of North Side Capitol Butte on its Web Page by clicking here. I hope you enjoy viewing this week’s post and come back next week when we’ll present the last image from Sedona Month.

Until next time — jw

Harcuvar Sunset Picture of the Week

There are good days and there are bad days. I have been out on photo shoots where nothing went right, and then there have been days when everything was perfect. This week’s photo is from one of my better days. Last week, I went on an expedition to Alamo Lake—a place I hadn’t visited before—because I saw a place in a student’s assignment that I wanted to photograph. I spent several hours driving to La Paz County and an hour searching for the right place. I spent another hour or two walking and shooting before I felt like I had what I wanted and packed up for the long drive home. As I got closer to home, the sun was setting and when I turned onto State Route 71, this was the view out of my door window so I pulled over to capture it.

Harcuvar Sunset
Harcuvar Sunset – After a day of shooting in the desert, I stopped on the drive home to take one last photograph.

I’m pretty ambivalent about sunset photos. They’re beautiful and all, but they’re everywhere. When I was younger I shot a lot of them, then I went through a period where I ignored them. Maybe I’ve mellowed in my old age because I feel like I’ve passed up some spectacular shots because I was too lazy to drive to an open field and I promised myself to rectify that.

This shot—called Harcuvar Sunset—is interesting to me because of the cloud layers. The sun’s last rays color the low clouds while the higher upper streaks are still white. The contrail—usually something that meddles in a photo—seems to be caught in the space between them. I captured this scene at the edge of an alfalfa field in Aguila and the mountains are the Harcuvar Range—I was shooting on the north side of them for most of the day.

You can see a larger version of Harcuvar Sunset on its Web page here. I hope you enjoy my new work and that you’ll tell me what you think. Do you think sunsets are beautiful or are they trite and overdone?

Until next time — jw