Paradox Valley Winter Fog

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Ground fog in western Paradox Valley.

On the morning of January 6 as I was approaching Bedrock, Colorado, I could see that the area of the valley where the Dolores River cuts across the Paradox Valley had a bank of ground fog settled in. With the recent snows and bitter cold and now glorious sunny winter morning, conditions looked ripe to provide some interesting light.

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Highway 90 just east of the fog bank.

I stopped for some shots of the fog bank, with the La Sal Mountains shining with new snow across the Utah state line.

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La Sal Mountains seeming to rise out of the fog bank above Bedrock.

Then it was down into the fog bank. But even at Bedrock it looked like the fog was close to being burned off by the morning sun.

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The Hwy. 90 bridge over the Dolores River.

Passing the historic Bedrock Store, the red rock cliffs had only a tantalizing veil of fog left before them. The Bedrock Store is famous for being the filming location of the pivotal “last phone call” scene in Thelma and Louise. Where Louise said, “Well, we’re not in the middle of nowhere, but we can see it from here.”

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The historic Bedrock Store.

Behind the tiny Bedrock Post Office, some crumbling buildings looked interesting with the misty, snowy cliffs in the background.

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Weathered buildings and the cliffs where the Dolores River empties into and across the valley, rather than following it.

Bedrock is where the Dolores River cuts across Paradox Valley, rather than following it. Thus it comes out of one deep red rock gorge, flows across the valley floor, and resumes its way through more gorges on its way to the Colorado River in southeastern Utah. This is the geologic “paradox” that gave the valley its name.

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Hoar frosted cottonwood trees near Paradox, Colorado.

Continuing on to the hamlet of Paradox, I stopped to admire a grove of cottonwood trees flocked with hoar frost, shining in the morning sun, with the north wall of Paradox Valley behind it.

Photo location: Paradox Valley, West End of Montrose County, Colorado.

Enjoy more of my photography at my website: www.NaturalMoment.com.

© Copyright 2019 Stephen J. Krieg

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April Full Moon, Prescott, Arizona

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The calendar shows tomorrow as being the Full Moon, which is deceiving from a practical standpoint. Because the moon becomes 100 % full (100 percent illuminated) just after midnight tonight. Which has it just into the wee minutes of tomorrow as far as the calendar date is concerned.

But tonight is effectively the night of the Full Moon. Here is how it looked as it rose over the Bradshaw Mountains on the southeast edge of Prescott at dusk this evening.

February (Almost) Full Moonrise

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Ah, it was that special time of month again: the Full Moon.

I revolve around it. The event, I mean. I watch it build daily from New Moon, rising later and later each day, until finally it rises at sunset time. That’s why it’s full then: it’s exactly opposite the sun, reflecting its light off its otherwise dark, barren surface.

I especially like scenery photos with the moon in them. However, you have to include the moon in them while there is still enough daylight on the scene. Otherwise you have yet another boring pic of the black sky with the bright moon as a little circle in it. We sure don’t need any more of those.

So usually the best time to make moonrise photos is the day before Full Moon. Why? Because the moon rises somewhat before sunset, but is so close to Full that it still looks fantastic. You have both the moon low on the horizon, and the scene still in daylight, either with the low angle of the setting sun or the soft pastels of dusk. Such as this windmill and water tank on a ranch on the outskirts of Chino Valley, Arizona. The following evening would have the moon rising about 50 minutes later (it varies a little, but that’s a good general rule of thumb), and the scene would probably be too dark to have these nice tonal values and colors. (Also, the following night was cloudy, so this night was the night for that reason, too.)

Next time: how to use a fantastic app called The Photographer’s Ephemeris to help you plan your moonrise and moonset shots.

Photo location: Chino Valley, Yavapai County, Central Arizona Highlands.

Goodbye, October

Lonesome Valley sunrise colors, Arizona

October 30, only one day left in the month after this. In the perfect month. But the perfect month has almost run out of time.

A cold front had come through, with some clouds to possibly make sunrise colors. I launched myself out at dawn, wanting to roam a bit into the heart of Lonesome Valley.

In the beautiful high country and wide open spaces of the Central Arizona Highlands you can’t lose be being out in nature. Just go out, soak in the view, the fresh air, the friendly waves of people driving the other way on the country roads.

Anyway, I chose to drive east from Chino Valley on Perkinsville Road, because the views are wide open right away. High country grasslands, ranches, a chance to see one of the antelope herds, too.

The clouds above the Lonesome Valley Buttes lit up with the reds of the yet-unseen sun. Land shapes, sky shapes, color. The freezing dawn was warming up with sunrise, and the sun would soon warm the landscape with golden sunlight, too.

Goodbye, October. You’re the perfect month to me. The good news is that the second best month follows. November, when I get to savor the remnants lingering from your glowing light of autumn leaves.

Photo location: Lonesome Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona.

Grand Canyon Silver And Black

Grand Canyon thunderstorm, South Rim

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.

Sunset Radial Panorama

Arizona sunset panorama

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.

Muddy Mirror, Sullivan Lake

Sullivan Lake, Paulden, Yavapai County, ArizonaAfter 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.

Photo Location: Paulden, Yavapai County, Arizona.

Last Sunset Of July, Wide View

Arizona Sunset

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.

Yucca Swirls

Yucca blades, Arizona

I was hiking up Loy Canyon in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness west of Sedona. I had gone from high desert valley floor vegetation of Pinon pine and juniper, up into the Ponderosa pine zone, then back into dry, tough manzanita on a high south slope. I was almost topping out on the point of the ridge I came to call Hiker’s Perch, when I came face to face with this Yucca plant on the uphill slope above the trail.

The many species of Yucca are favorites on my plant list. This one is the Banana yucca, so named because of its banana shaped fruit pods that appear early every summer. Its green-blue blades are strong, with needle sharp points. You don’t blunder up against one more than once, unless you enjoy punctures in your legs. Their blades spread out at various vertical angles, and growing from a common base this form serves to direct rainwater and snowmelt toward the plant’s roots. Pretty clever.

What especially captivated me about this particular individual was the bright but soft high desert light on it, there in the shade of a big manzanita bush. The tough, sinewy fibers curled off the blades in enticing swirls. I made several exposures before continuing on.

Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness, Coconino National Forest, Arizona.