Summit Monsoon Picture of the Week

My third grade class picture.
A third-grade class picture from my Catholic School days.

Sister Mary Ellie-Font taught us about purgatory in the third grade—and she wasn’t talking about the Colorado ski resort. Heaven and Hell weren’t enough to cover the petty sins not covered by commandments. So, Catholics came up with alternative punishment to keep us in line. One way or another, we were going to pay for the Big Mac we ate on Friday. Purgatory is a holding cell where we would stay until God had enough free time to sort us out—or someone specifically prayed for our soul. At the age of eight, we learned that you could skate from anything if you had connections.

For the last couple of months, it feels like we’ve been living in that purgatory-like state of limbo. We’re waiting for something to happen. When we got our vaccine shots this spring, we all climbed aboard a trolley to the beach. Now it seems like the streetcar is lurching to a halt, and our confidence in the future is waning.

Back in the spring, Queen Anne and I were eager to get back on the road. We were ready to bring back pictures from foreign lands, exotic cities, and far-off islands. We’re not sure the world is ready for that. With the spread of virus variants and rising infection rates, we’ve decided to play it safe a while longer. After all, we’re still in the same high-risk group as when this pandemic began. Besides, that’s what our doctors suggested.

For August, we’re going to hang around our neighborhood, but I wanted to bring you something different. Last week, I wrote about the monsoons and how they brought much-needed rain and spectacular evening light shows. So, this month I’m featuring monsoon clouds—the prettier side of our summer rainy season instead of the floods and muck on the evening news.

Summit Monsoon - Thunderstorms build over the mountains by day, and then move down to the desert floor in the evenings.
Summit Monsoon – Thunderstorms build over the mountains by day and then move down to the desert floor in the evenings.

I took this week’s picture in our town’s natural amphitheater—where the old mine and pioneer cemetery is. It shows one of the Date Creek Range’s low peaks and thunder clouds building over the distant Weaver Mountains. The storms only happen when enough moisture moves up from Mexico. Then, the billowing thunderheads form high over the Bradshaw Mountains and flow into the desert. The rain cells are not particularly big, so we never know where it will rain—some nights, we get dust and wind, and other evenings we get drenched. However, the winds cool off the air enough to watch the show from the front porch, making the summers bearable.

You can see a larger version of Summit Monsoon on its Web Page by clicking here. Be sure to come back next week to see the next image that I bagged on my cloud hunt.

Until next time — jw

Stanton Dusk Picture of the Week

On my last outing, I spent an afternoon exploring the Stanton Road searching for suitable photography subjects. The dirt road runs along the base of the Weaver range between Arizona Highway 89 and the Stanton ghost town. There, you can either continue up the hill on the back road to Yarnell—something that I’ll do in the future—or take the Octave road to the old Octave Mine site. I drove down the road until it became too rough for my wimpy truck and I turned around. The light was failing anyway, so I decided to call it a day. I was almost back to Stanton, and as I rounded a corner, I saw this scene and stopped the truck so I could take a photo. I call this shot Stanton Dusk and it’s my new photo of the week.

Stanton Dusk
Stanton Dusk – The sun at the western horizon lights the ridges along the Weaver Range behind the ghost town of Stanton.

The low sun lighting the mountain ridges is what first caught my attention. The ridgelines highlighted like that keeps Weaver Mountain from being a flat silhouette and adds texture and perspective to the large dark shape. I think the sky and clouds contribute to a sense of open space. Finally, the light-colored structures atop the lower ridge anchor the frame. This shot has many of the elements that Ansel Adams captured in his masterpiece: Moonrise over Hernandez (I must mention that the image in this link is a poor representation of one of his original prints). I’m not saying that my shot has the stature of his, but Moonrise has long been a personal inspiration and I can see some of the influences in my shot. Of course, my shot doesn’t have a moon and—as some photographers do—I could add one in post-processing, but I won’t.

You can see a larger version of Stanton Dusk on my Website here. Examine both pieces and see if you agree with me. Can you see the similarity in the dark sky, the light structures, background mountain, and clouds, or am I fantasizing? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below and don’t be bashful about clicking on the Like button if you enjoyed this post.

Until next time — jw