Bosque del Apache V: Sandhills Rising

2013

Each morning during their migration rest at Bosque del Apache, the Sandhill Cranes rise from fields flooded by 2-3 feet of water, where they are safe from predators. In groups of 3 to 10 they fly to nearby grain fields, where they spend the day feeding, only to rise again as the day fades and return to the safety of the wetlands for the night.

Weighing 8 to 10 lbs. and with a wingspan of up to 6 feet, Sandhills look ungainly while standing, but stretch into beautiful aerodynamic form with their powerful pumping wings slowly lifting them into the sky

 

Sandhills Rising<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013 Sandhills Rising II<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013 Sandhills Rising III<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013 Sandhills Rising IV<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013 Sandhills Rising V<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013
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Great Sand Dunes II

2013

15 miles north of Blanca Peak, a Colorado sand dune field emerged as a result of the last major volcanic activity in the San Juan Mountains some 30 million years ago. As the Rio Grande carried volcanic ash eastward, prevailing southwesterly winds – offset by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains’ snowmelt – maintained the unique balance of these trapped dunes:  shifting back and forth according to the strength and direction of the prevailing wind relative to the degree of the snowmelt’s runoff.

Reaching heights of 750′, these are the highest and tallest sand dunes in North America.

Native Americans have long observed this unique dune field’s wandering, shifting nature: the Jicarilla Apaches: “it goes up and down,” and the Utes: “the land that moves back and forth.”

Great Sand Dunes I<br>Great Sand Dunes - 2013 Great Sand Dunes II<br>Great Sand Dunes - 2013 Great Sand Dunes III<br>Great Sand Dunes - 2013 Great Sand Dunes IV<br>Great Sand Dunes - 2013 Great Sand Dunes V<br>Great Sand Dunes - 2013

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Christmas Mountains

2013

The lovely Christmas Mountains run east-west, just north of Big Bend National Park. Their highest peak is 5,728′. The Chihuahuan Desert’s blended colored texture provides a perfect platform for the Christmas Mountains’ distant march. Then, farther east and slightly south, just inside Big Bend National Park, I encountered the wonderfully contrasting Rosillos Peak.

How scale alters texture, and color!

Christmas Mountains Foothills<br>Christmas Mountains - 2013 Christmas Mountains<br>Christmas Mountains - 2013 Christmas Mountains II<br>Christmas Mountains - 2013 Rosillos Peak<br>Christmas Mountains - 2013

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Big Bend’s Chisos Mountains

2013

Stretching over 1,000 miles, the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo forms the international boundary between the United States and Mexico. Named for the southernmost 118 mile U-shaped bend in the Rio Grande, Big Bend National Park’s 1,250 sq. miles means it is larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Lying in a southwest – northeast axis, the 20 mile long Chisos Mountain range is the furthest southern mountain range in the U.S. Its 7,835′ Emory Peak is the highest of its four peaks that exceed 7,000′.

The Chisos Mountains, initially amongst a surrounding lowland formed some 66 million years ago, was uplifted 30 million years later. Followed by very active volcanism, the high basalt content offers a wide range of beautifully subtle hued formations.

I found I just couldn’t resist the texture, color and shape of the Chisos Mountains basalt formations…

Chisos Mountains<br>Big Bend's Chisos Mountains - 2013 Chisos Mountains II<br>Big Bend's Chisos Mountains - 2013 Chisos Detail<br>Big Bend's Chisos Mountains - 2013 Chisos Detail II<br>Big Bend's Chisos Mountains - 2013 Chisos Detail III<br>Big Bend's Chisos Mountains - 2013 Chisos Detail IV<br>Big Bend's Chisos Mountains - 2013

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Guadalupe Mountain South

2013

Heading south from Carlsbad Caverns across New Mexico’s southern border with Texas, along side Guadalupe National Park’s 8,749′ Guadalupe Mountain, the highest point in Texas stands stark against the flat landscape of the Chihuahuan Desert .

250 million years ago, all of the continents were joined together forming the supercontinent Pangea, which was surrounded by a great ocean. Of the three arms of The Permian Basin – the Marfa, Delaware and Midland basins – the Delaware Basin contained the Delaware Sea over what is now Western Texas and Southeastern New Mexico.

170 million years later, tectonic compression along the western margin of North America caused the region encompassing west Texas and southern New Mexico to slowly uplift. Then 60 million years later a transition in tectonic events initiated the formation of steep faults along the western side of the Delaware Basin. Movement along these faults forced a long-buried portion of the Capitan Reef to rise several thousand more feet. Erosion uncovered the more resistant fossil reef forming the modern Guadalupe Mountains, which now tower above the desert floor as it once loomed over the floor of the Delaware Sea.

Continuing south beyond the Guadalupe Mountains, TX #54 meanders between two distant lesser mountain ranges, which contrasted against the Chihuahuan Desert, reveal beautifully subtle profiles of the Sierra Diegas to the east, and the Sierra Diablos to the west. Their soft colors are further muted by deceptive distance. As a photographer, I’m forever seeking contrasts in shape, color, texture, and distance, that the sunlight’s direction will further emphasize either through highlighting color hues and/or through the creation of shadow patterns.

Guadalupe Mountain<br>Guadalupe Mountain South - 2013 Guadalupe Detail<br>Guadalupe Mountain South - 2013 Sierra Diegas Mountains<br>Guadalupe Mountain South - 2013 Sierra Diegas Mountains II<br>Guadalupe Mountain South - 2013 Sierra Diegas Mountains III<br>Guadalupe Mountain South - 2013 Sierra Diegas Mountains IV<br>Guadalupe Mountain South - 2013

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Ghost Ranch West III

2012

Warm early March light on this lovely array of high desert colors, just north of Abiquiu Lake, leading west from Ghost Ranch along the dirt road to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert…

‘Georgia O’Keefe country’ is an hour north of Santa Fe, and lies within the broad shallow Chama Basin along the eastern margin of the Colorado Plateau as it transitions toward the Rio Grande Rift further east. Because the Colorado Plateau has been a relatively stable block in the Earth’s crust for at least 600 million years, the rocks around Ghost Ranch are generally flat-lying and less deformed by broad-scale folding.

The oldest exposed rocks in the ghost ranch area belong to a thick layer of brick-red to red siltstone and mudstone, and mudstone and white to tan sandstone. Deposited more than 200+ million years ago when the Ghost Ranch area was located just 10 degrees north of the equator these varicolored cliffs provide its signature palette, when raised by low-angled light.

Blended with motion, it is my intent that this palette suggest its millions of years’ passage of time.

To view more images of Ghost Ranch, see Ghost Ranch and Ghost Ranch II.

Chamita River<br>Ghost Ranch West III - 2012 Road West II<br>Ghost Ranch West III - 2012 East Facing Butte<br>Ghost Ranch West III - 2012 Southeast Facing<br>Ghost Ranch West III - 2012 Southeast Facing II<br>Ghost Ranch West III - 2012 Chama Basin<br>Ghost Ranch West III - 2012

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Bosque del Apache III

2011

Early winter light warms the soft wetlands screened against the hard Chupadera Mountains as the rising sun awakens thousands of migrating fowl. The Snow Geese’s cacophony builds and 10,000 Sandhill Cranes begin lifting off in twos and threes with their six-foot wing spans slowly, powerfully, pumping them upward.

President Clinton used to say: “It’s the economy, stupid.” With landscape, it’s the light! Never is that more pronounced than in early winter at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge with the Sandhills flying.

To view more images of Bosque del Apache, see Bosque del Apache and Bosque del Apache II

Winter Palette<br>Bosque del Apache III - 2011 Winter Palette II<br>Bosque del Apache III - 2011 Winter Palette III<br>Bosque del Apache III - 2011 Two Sandhills In Flight<br>Bosque del Apache III - 2011 Three Sandhills<br>Bosque del Apache III - 2011 Bosque Apache<br>Bosque del Apache III - 2011

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Ghost Ranch West II

2012

Two and a half months after my last visit, I’m back in Georgia O’Keefe country.  This morning, as it turned out, blessed with moderate cloud cover, I had nearly an hour to capture the soft light playing on Ghost Ranch country’s many layers of siltstone, mudstone and the white to tan sandstone that rivers laid down 200 million years ago when this area was situated only about 10 degrees north of the equator.

To visually emphasize the incredible passage of time that created this dramatic landscape, I chose a soft camera stroke to blend the emulsions in the softened light with the many subtle color layers.

To view more images of Ghost Ranch, see Ghost Ranch I and Ghost Ranch III.

Road West<br>Ghost Ranch SW II- 2012 East Facing<br>Ghost Ranch SW II - 2012 Northeast Facing<br>Ghost Ranch SW II - 2012 Chamita River<br>Ghost Ranch SW II - 2012 Ghost Ranch Totem<br>Ghost Ranch SW II - 2012

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Bosque del Apache II

2012

The Bosque’s most celebrated season begins with the arrival of the Sandhill Cranes in mid-November and lasts until January-February when they head north to breed. Honking and calling 10-15,000 strong, the Sandhills congregate in groups among thousands of Snow Geese creating a spectacular migratory stop in the desert sands.

Sandhills appear gangly standing in the water on their long skinny legs.  Yet as one of North America’s larger water fowl with wingspans reaching six feet, they are definitely the stars of the Bosque show.

To view more images of Bosque del Apache, see Bosque del Apache I and Bosque del Apache III

Grasslands<br>Bosque del Apache II - 2012 Wetlands<br>Bosque del Apache II - 2012 Wetlands Trail<br>Bosque del Apache II - 2012 Sandhill Cranes Lift Off<br>Bosque del Apache II - 2012 Chupaderas<br>Bosque del Apache II - 2012 High Desert Bosque<br>Bosque del Apache II - 2012

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White Sands II

2012

After spending five days over the New Year shooting the Grand Canyon, I photographed my way through the red rocks of Sedona, across the Continental Divide, then dropped down to the Rio Grande, following it south into the Tularosa Basin to shoot at White Sands once again.

Sand dunes are always striking as their organic shapes and patterns constantly change the absorption and reflection of light, but the dunes of White Sands are uniquely special because they reflect the color of the surrounding light more vividly.

San Andres Mountains<br>White Sands II - 2012 San Andres Mountains II<br>White Sands II - 2012 San Andres Mountains III<br>White Sands II - 2012 Tulaosa Basin<br>White Sands II - 2012 El Caballo Mountains<br>White Sands II - 2012 Moon at Sunrise<br>White Sands II - 2012 Sacramento Mountains<br>White Sands II - 2012 Sierra Blanca<br>White Sands II - 2012

White Sands I

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White Sands I

2011

Situated within New Mexico’s south-central Tularosa Basin are 270 square miles of White Sands’ dunes comprising the world’s largest surface deposit of gypsum. Beginning 100 miles south of Albuquerque and continuing 100 miles further south to El Paso, this basin lies within the Rio Grande Rift zone and the Chihuahuan Desert.

Unlike typical quartz sand, gypsum sands’ high rate of surface moisture evaporation reflects rather than absorbs the sun’s rays, making the grains cool to the touch, while taking on the hues of first and last light.

Two hundred and fifty million years ago, enormous upheavals in the Rio Grande Rift formed mountain ranges on both the east and west edges of the Tularosa Basin that uncovered these gypsum deposits, which over time leached into the basin.

In the dunes foreground, sparse golden grasses glow in contrast to the brilliant white dunes which in turn contrast against the formidable mountains both east and west.

White Sands Against San Andres Mountains<br>White Sands - 2011 Parabolic Dunes<br>White Sands - 2011 Parabolic Dunes II<br>White Sands - 2011 Long Shadows<br>White Sands - 2011

White Sands II

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Sierras Across Death Valley

2007

Zabriskie Point lies along the eastern border of California offering sweeping views West across Death Valley’s floor to the Sierra Nevada front-range. The Sierras run 400 miles north-south and 70 miles west-east. Included within this bountiful mountain range is Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America, Mount Whitney at 14,505’ the highest point in the contiguous U.S., and Yosemite Valley sculpted by glaciers out of 100 million-year-old granite.

Four million years ago, the Sierra range began to uplift. Subsequent glacial erosion exposed the granite, forming the light-colored mountains we see today. Approaching the Sierra Nevada Range from across Death Valley provides an even more dramatic perspective of the ethereal vertical-rise.

Sierra Range<br>Sierras Across Death Valley - 2007 Zabriskie Point<br>Sierras Across Death Valley - 2007 East Facing<br>Sierras Across Death Valley - 2007 Sierras East Front<br>Sierras Across Death Valley - 2007 Sierras East Front II<br>Sierras Across Death Valley - 2007 Sierra Range II<br>Sierras Across Death Valley - 2007 Death Valley Against Sierras<br>Sierras Across Death Valley - 2007

 

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