Ballet in the Desert

Whenever the shapes of Nature remind me of ballet, I have to stop and take a picture. This Joshua Tree seems to be arcing a curved arm overhead in a graceful reach to frame the desert.

A single leaning Joshua Tree frames the desert scene on a sunny day in May, 2019.

When you are visiting from the East Coast, you don’t normally think of rattlesnakes and jumping cacti (the cholla or teddy bear cactus), but I was watching my step too.

Was your week wet or dry?

We have had a wet and stormy week in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and other parts of the United States have endured worse — floods or even tornadoes. This late spring/early summer weather can be violent.

So, my mind is traveling back to last week in the dry high-altitude desert. We had cacti all around us in Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. The Joshua trees themselves are as numerous as they are unique. This one, uniquely shaped, seemed to point toward the setting moon in the west.

Old Joshua Tree points toward the moon as it sets behind the mountains in Joshua Tree National Park, soon after sunrise in late May 2019. We were thankful for a clear day to enjoy some hiking.

Along the Teton Fault

Did you ever wonder why the Grand Tetons rise straight up out of a flat valley? The Teton Fault separates two tectonic plates at the foot of the mountains. For the past 10 million years, the mountains have inched up to 13,700 feet, while the flat valley floor has sunk to its current level at 6,800 feet above sea level, according to the National Park Service.

During the Ice Age glaciers moved south from Yellowstone region, filling the valley and then eroding the mountains into jagged peaks and melting into lakes. All of this geology history tells a fascinating story too gradual for us to observe, but we can observe the changing seasons and fall color.

#valley, #grandtetons, #jacksonhole, #gtnp, #golden, #sky, #sunnyday, #wyoming, #grandteton, #landscape, #nikon
The valley floor appears golden in late September along the Teton Fault in Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park.

Do the colors in this scene leave you feeling uplifted?

(The facts in this blog were provided by the National Park Service.)

Learning from Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams made an iconic photograph of the Snake River Valley looking toward the Grand Tetons from this very spot in Jackson Hole in 1942. So, with my Sony mirrorless digital camera and the latest software, I followed the master’s lead and made this vibrant color image at sunset in late September 2018.

#sunset, #grandtetons, #snakeriver, #hdr, #lightroom, #clearnight, #jacksonhole, #rrstripod, #sonymirrorless
Four exposures merged in Adobe Lightroom created this vivid color image of the Snake River Valley and Grand Teton Range at sunset, from Ansel Adams’ lookout.

The view was even better in Adams’ day, because the Snake River made a serpentine curve leading the eye to the mountains. Today trees obscure part of the river from this lookout. It was still exciting to walk in Ansel Adams’ footsteps 76 years later.

It’s All About the Sky

A truly great sunset photo requires a good foreground. You know, the parking lot or the neighbor’s house won’t do. Many of us head for the mountains or the sea to watch the sunset and capture the fleeting natural beauty in a photograph.

But the second ingredient in a great sunset photos is the sky. The texture and the reflections of the golden light in the clouds separates the good sunsets from the great ones.

Both the foreground and the amazing clouds came together along the banks of the Snake River on this magical evening in Grand Teton National Park. Mount Moran and the Grand Teton mountain range, although backlit, made a pretty majestic foreground. For scale, notice the tiny boats on the left side.

What can I say about the clouds? As wispy as cotton candy and as vivid as a flame?

#sky, #grandteton, #nationalpark, #mountmoran, #sunset, #clouds, #backlit, #aurorahdr, #sony, #gtnp, #landscape
Mount Moran is backlit by the sunset in Grand Teton National Park. This image is all about the sky.

 

Magical Sunset in the Grand Tetons

On my first evening in Jackson Hole, I was blessed to witness a magical sunset behind the  Grand Teton mountain range. I cannot tell you how different every sunset was during  my week in Jackson Hole. The clouds, the colors, the lack of clouds — you never know what will develop. Every minute during a sunset is also unique. Here is one of those fleeting moments during sunset behind the Grand Tetons from Cunningham’s Cabin in Grand Teton National Park.

#grandteton, #nationalpark, #sunset, #gtnp, #jacksonhole, #jackson, #september, #grandtetonnationalpark, #landscapephotography, #nature, #sunbeams, #clouds, #fence, #cunninghamcabin, #cunningham, #brilliant
Brilliant sunbeams streamed over the Grand Teton peaks during sunset in a moment so brilliant, I had to turn away.

If you like this image, stay tuned to this blog. I have just begun to process my images from numerous sunrise and sunsets in different scenic locations in Grand Teton National Park. Soon, you will be planning your own trip!

 

 

Lovely Lunar Eclipse

The Moon, the Sun and the Earth, moving in concert, put on a fabulous show, and I am so grateful that the Clouds did not run interference. Clear skies over Naples on the Gulf of Mexico early on January 31, 2018 gave all of us at Vanderbilt Beach a great experience. I promised my friendly neighbors in the adventure a series of images shot with my Nikon D800 and Tamron 600mm lens, so here we go:

#bluemoon, #moon, #supermoon, #eclipse, #naples, #january31
About 6:25am the Supermoon of January 31 looks full, but the upper left portion begins to darken. Notice the detail on the moon’s surface.

#moon, #supermoon, #bluemoon, #lunareclipse, #eclipse, #naples, #photography, #astrophotography
Minutes later the dark portion of the moon grows, as the Earth blocks more of the sun. The moon also appears more orange.

#moon, #supermoon, #bluemoon, #january31, #photography, #astrophotography, #eclipse, #lunareclipse
The dark region and the orange glow continue to grow as the lunar eclipse approaches its peak.

#moon, #eclipse, #moonset, #bluemoon, #supermoon, #lunareclipse, #naples, #photography, #astrophotography, #tamron, #nikon
The eclipsed moon descends toward the horizon over the Gulf of Mexico.

#moon, #moonset, #gulf, #naples, #lunareclipse, #eclipse, #dawn, #supermoon, #bluemoon, #itsover, #photography, #astrophotography, #nikon, #tamron
As the dawn approaches and the sky lightens and turns pink, we catch our last glimpse of the lunar eclipse before the moon has set over the Gulf.

In a short thirty-minute observation, our adventure was over.

If you enjoyed this series of photographs, please share this blog with your friends. There will be more moon, wildlife, nature and landscape photography to come! Prints of higher resolution images are available for sale via Cathy’s website: www.cathykellyphotography.com or by emailing Cathy your request at cathykellyphotography@gmail.com.