The 2013 “monsoon” thunderstorm season has been rejuvenated here in northern Arizona recently. I’m glad of it.
Fittingly, I came across this photo in my files from this time of year that was made in 2009, from the South Rim of Grand Canyon, about 100 miles north of where I’m living presently. That almost makes me a Grand Canyon local.
This scene was looking west, late in the day. The sunlight is shining like a mirror off the surface of the Colorado River, a mile below in depth and several miles to the west. The thunderstorm rain curtains are lovely, ethereal looking. Much of the foreground Canyon is in deep shadow, giving a rich strength to the image.
Photo location: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.
Yet another sunset episode in the Central Arizona Highlands. A sweeping scene, mountains in the distance, moon rising.
As if I didn’t have enough to do, the clouds overhead were lighting up, too. I tilted my camera on the tripod for this one. The cloud seemed to glow from within, like fireplace coals. Violet shades against the deep blue evening sky.
Then it was over, leaving me with another cluster of photographic recordings of what a privilege it is to be able to live in such a place.
The Southwestern “monsoon” rains came weeks ago, awakening the high desert land between the mountains.
Then they disappeared. What happened? Was the rainy season over already, as happened a few years ago, much to my dismay?
But then this week, moisture returned to the skies. Clouds, billowing, every changing. Come back to Earth, you moisture ones. This is where you want to be.
In this photo, the rain curtains tease to the north. In the distance, the blue shapes of Bill Williams Mountain, and the Mogollon Rim, which is the very southern edge of the vast, high Colorado Plateau, just sit there. They’ve seen it all.
I want to feel the rain drops hit me again. Like a mountain. Like a desert.
I walked out into the early evening light. Glorious summer day, the moisture of blessed rains teasing through the afternoon.
To the east loomed Woodchute Mountain, dark blue on the horizon. A white billowing thunderhead cloud above. And, underneath, a bit of rainbow. Somehow the evening sun had found a slit in the western clouds and lit up the rain.
Just a bit of it.
Mountain, sky. Summer. Rainbow. Heading home to shower up from another hot summer day and relax in the cool blessed night.
Fall will arrive soon. Meanwhile, such grandness in the highlands heat.
In addition to sunflowers, late summer is epitomized by the emergence of the cicadas. Those giant, loud insects.
I was hoping to find one low enough on the trees for me to photograph easily, and a few days ago I was rewarded with two of them.
This one had just emerged from its nymphal skin, the brown, dry thing to which it’s clinging in this photo. The skin, which is like a thin shell, remains attached to the tree and so lets you know how many have come out there. It’s where the loudness of the courting adults begins, after they are fully emerged and have had a chance to get their wits about them.
But the main treat in this photo is the emerald green wings, somewhat backlit by the sky.
Tough lighting here, in the shade at sunset. I cranked the ISO up to 1600, stood on a chair because I didn’t have a ladder handy, and took some shots and video, handheld. Processed in Adobe Lightroom to bring out the shadow detail, tame the extreme contrast, and tone down the noise due to the high ISO. I think it turned out quite well given the conditions.
The yellow out of focus blobs in the background are the setting sunlight on some of the elm leaves. It makes it look like fall has begun, but we’re nowhere near that late in the season yet. It’s still mid August. It makes for an interesting effect, though, so I was glad to have it in the composition.
Stopping to make my first photos of this season’s wild sunflowers, I found a small clump of them along one of the roads in the Prescott National Forest. The dark blue-gray storm clouds provided a perfect palette to set off the bright yellow splash of the petals.
Photo location: Prescott National Forest, east of Chino Valley, Arizona.