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.
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.
Last night as I was approaching home, and the sunset hour, I could tell it had the makings of a spectacular one. The clouds were crazy patterned against the blue sky north of Prescott. Sometimes good looking sunset clouds move on or dissipate before the sun sets, but it didn’t look like that would happen this time. It pays to observe and be ready.
After stopping for several shots and some video, including “Grassland Skies”, I still had time to shower and wait for the sun to do its thing. Because I have a wide open western horizon in my back yard.
The clouds were not far above the horizon, rather than shutting off the sunset. So they would do their job as reflectors just after the sun had slipped below the landscape. But in this case, they also radiated out to the south, east, and north. What a killer combination of conditions. All I had to do next was watch and photograph.
As the recently departed sun’s fire lit up the clouds from below, I made a panorama series of four overlapping shots. That allowed me to merge them in Photoshop for one extremely high resolution final image, rather than taking a single super wide angle shot and cropping it heavily.
Photo Location: Chino Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona.
After the big monsoon thunderstorm up north, Chino Wash was awash with muddy water. The only kind of water dry country drainages seem to know. It’s either there, or not. And not for long.
The little dam that forms Sullivan Lake at Paulden, Arizona was built by the Works Progress Administration in 1938, 75 years ago. It wasn’t thrown together at any old location. It’s the head of the Verde River, where the drainage has cut a small, vertical gorge through the malpais basalt rimrock. Plenty of basalt boulders to use in the construction, as well.
A few days after the big rain, the water was barely flowing over a portion of the right side of the dam. The rapidly greening Arizona Highlands grassland was vibrant in the evening sunlight. The water was still muddy, but reflected the blue sky quite nicely.
The wide view of yesterday’s sunset photo, shifting one’s attention from the blazing yellows and oranges just above the sun outward to the pinks and purples of the upper clouds, and the blue sky canvas.
Photo location: Chino Valley, north of Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona.
July 31, and another glorious Arizona sunset, thanks to well-positioned cumulus clouds above the western horizon. Clouds that would not have appeared, much less stuck around, earlier in the dry, windy spring and early summer.
But it’s monsoon thunderstorm season in the Southwest now, when ocean moisture is drawn inland and northward, to provide the much needed and much anticipated seasonal rains.
It’s finally here: the summer thunderstorm “monsoon” season in the Southwest. When we get most of our moisture for the year. When the moisture comes up from the south and collides with the hot summer skies, forming cumulus clouds, then thunderheads.
Refreshing, enticing, beautiful.
Photo location: Yavapai County, Central Arizona Highlands