In late May, I traveled to Iceland to hike and take photographs. We first visited Gulfoss, a giant set of falls in the canyon of the Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. Iceland has become much more popular to visit since my last visit 9 years ago, so finding an unobstructed view of the cascading water can be difficult. Furthermore, even in late spring and early summer, strong winds and near constant spitting rain make it hard to keep the camera lens dry while taking long-exposure photographs.
Gulfoss Upper Cascades, southwest Iceland (16″x42″)
While photographing Tanque Verde Falls, the striations in the rock kept drawing my attention. I tried to get in close to the cliff face to use the striped rock to both frame the falls and lead the viewer’s eye towards the cascading water.
Striations and Tanque Verde Falls, near Tucson, AZ (16″x36″)
After taking a few photographs of Tanque Verde Falls from above, I tried to get below the falls to photograph the water from below. I made the main focus of the three-frame vertical panorama the small cascade at my feet, but I tried to capture the larger falls in the upper right corner of the composition.
Looking Up at Upper Tanque Verde Falls, near Tucson, AZ (16″x15″)
Last February, I took a late winter walk out to the upper portion of Tanque Verde Falls. After scrambling around on the rock shelves for a few minutes, I found a spot that allowed me to photograph both the cascading water and the striations in the cliff face.
Looking Down on Upper Tanque Verde Falls (color), near Tucson, AZ (16″x32″)
Looking Down on Upper Tanque Verde Falls (B&W), near Tucson, AZ (16″x32″)
As I mentioned in a previous week’s post, lake levels were down in 2016 in the mountains of far western Nepal after an especially hot year. I am accustomed to ‘bathtub ring’ images of Lake Powell in the American Southwest, but we could see our own ‘bathtub ring’ effect around our study lakes in the Himalaya.
Bathtub Rings around Retreating Lake, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x42″)
Cloud Reflections in Shrinking Lake, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x41″)
The rain stopped and many of the clouds started to clear off by sunset, so I climbed out of my tent, grabbed my camera and tripod, and rest stepped my way up the hill above camp to photograph the landscape as the sun descended over the ridge the west. I think the panorama with the rock in the foreground was one of my most successful photographs on the trip (first panorama). Although I don’t usually include my own image in my photographs, I also liked the way my shadow falls across the hillside opposite the setting sun (second panorama).
Rock Shadow at Sunset over the Lake, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x44″)
Rising Shadows and Retreating Clouds at Sunset, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x60″)
After descending from the pass and high plateau, we continued up a river valley and made camp on the bank near sunset. Rhododendron bushes and small trees lined the hillsides at the edge of tree line, and landslide debris was piled on the hillsides (first panorama). Another rainstorm rolled through around sunset, and I was able to photograph a few grazing horses on a ridge top in front of the clouds (second, third panoramas).
Landslide Debris and Hillside, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x55″)
Horses and Storm Clouds on the Ridge, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x32″)
Storm Clouds over Hillside and Stream, near Jumla, Nepal (13″x53″)
We rested at a high plateau on the pass near ~14,500+ feet. Horses and sheep appear to graze at this elevation, and the soil appears to be eroding rapidly (first panorama). The landscape is mostly covered in shades of brown, but occasional patches of yellow wildflowers seem to flow through dry stream beds (second panorama). On our way down from the plateau, we passed a herd of horses grazing near 14,000 feet (third panorama).
Eroded Pass and Clouds, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x62″)
Flowers on the Pass, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x72″)
Stream Valley and Horses on the Pass, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x64″)
More panoramas of our campsite from our two days coring lakes in the cloud forest in the Himalayan foothills. After dinner, I liked to sit and watch the clouds lift and lower over the cliffs in the distance (second panorama).
Ponds and Trees in the Cloud Forest Camp, far western Nepal (16″x72″)
Thornbush Wall and Cloud-Draped Cliffs in the Distance, far western Nepal (16″x50″)
We passed through rice fields, crossed rivers, and finally drove up a steep, narrow dirt road into the rhododendron cloud forest. After establishing a camp at the end of the road, we spent a few days studying lakes formed by landslides a few centuries ago. Here is a panorama of one of the smaller rivers and steep hillsides. Also, a view from our camp of the surrounding town and boulder-covered landscape at the end of the road.
Steep Hills, River, and Boulders, far western Nepal (16″x41″)
Village at the End of the Road, far western Nepal (16″x75″)
High winds brought the edge of a thunder storm past our camp in the terraces. Before bed, I watched the lightning flash in the clouds over the nearby hills like strobe lights. When I got up in the morning, fog was clearing off the valley and revealed a cobble stone paved road leading through the fields.
Terrace Camp Sunrise, far Western Nepal (16″x70″)
Terrace Camp Fog and Sunrise, far Western Nepal (16″x69″)
Cobble Stone Road through the Fields and Fog, far Western Nepal (16″x50″)
While working Boulder this July, I drove up to Kite Lake near Fairplay and Alma, CO. The camping areas near the lake were packed, so I hiked up a cirque along Buckskin Creek and set up camp near 12,500 feet in an isolated meadow. The cirque was relatively close to the parking area, but the steep hill blocked the view of the road and trails, so the area felt like the middle of the wilderness. The next morning, I slid out of my sleeping bag before sunrise to hike up a few peaks in the area- see future posts for peak panoramas.
Snow Field and Stream, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x54″)
Unnamed Crescent Lake, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x60″)
My first weekend in Boulder, I drove to the southeastern corner of Rocky Mountain National Park and hiked up to the back of Isolation Peak. On the way back down, I stopped at Ouzel Falls and Calypso Cascades to take a few long-exposure/bulb photographs of the flowing water.
Ouzel Falls and Stump, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO (16″x28″)
Calypso Cascades and Logs, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO (16″x27″)
On my drive to Boulder, CO, I stopped along US 285 near San Antonio Mountain to photograph the summer clouds passing over the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.
Ute Mountain and Clouds, Rio Arrive County, New Mexico (12″x18″)
When I stepped off the plane from Nepal in late June, it was about 110F (~40C) here in southern Arizona. Fortunately, the monsoon started soon after I arrived. After work one evening I drove up to the top of Sentinel Peak (near downtown Tucson) and shot a few panoramas of the lumbering monsoon storms as they approached from the south.
Monsoon Storm from Sentinel Peak #2, Tucson Mountains, AZ (16″x74″)
Here is a second series of photographs from my Milagrosa to Agua Caliente Canyon loop hike. I was amazed to see water flowing near the top of Agua Caliente (second photograph) even though we had received so little moisture for most of the winter.
Looking down Milagrosa Canyon, Milagrosa Canyon, AZ (16″x33″)
Falls in Agua Caliente, Agua Caliente Canyon, AZ (12″x18″)
In March, I hiked up Milagrosa Canyon (I have posted climbing photographs from this canyon in the past). I exited the top of Milagrosa by scrambling up a series of stepped dry waterfalls. I then picked my way across a hill through the Sonoran Desert until I hit a trail that dropped back down into the head of Agua Caliente Canyon. After a brief swim at a lunch time pool, I boulder-hopped down Agua Caliente to where the two canyons join near the road. As I was sliding from boulder to boulder, countless thumb-sized, camouflaged desert toads hopped out of the way of my feet. Overall, the day was at least an 8/10 stars for fun- it felt rugged without ever being more than three hours from a trailhead.
Saguaro Cacti Marching into Milagrosa, Milagrosa Canyon, AZ (14″x16″)
Agua Caliente Pools, Agua Caliente Canyon, AZ (16″x42″)
Early in March, I hiked up the Ventana Canyon trail to Ventana Arch and back down through Sabino Canyon. Here are a few panoramas I took on the way up to the Arch.
Ventana Arch, Cliff, Hills, and Sky, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x53″)
Maiden Pools Rocks and Cacti, Ventana Canyon, AZ (16″x50″)
After photographing a passing summer storm near Hooper, CO (see last week’s post), I stopped near the entrance to Great Sand Dunes National Park to shoot a panorama of the same storm as it lumbered over the Preserve and the mountains in the background. I shot this scene using HDR to get a more even exposure in the clouds and shadows on the ground, then made the image partially black and white to emphasize the drama of the scene.
Lone Tree, Dunes, Mountains, Clouds, Great Sand Dunes NP, CO (16″x54″)
On my way to Great Sand Dunes, I stopped along the highway to photograph this abandoned house in a field as a summer thunderstorm passed overhead. If you read my photography blog, you know that I love to photograph clouds (and would have stopped to shoot them anyway), but it was even better to have a dramatic foreground element. Additionally, the Dunes hug the foothills of the mountains in the background.
Farm House and Summer Storm, near Hooper, CO (16″x62″)
I decided to turn my King Canyon trail hike into a loop, returning along the Gould Mine Trail. Multi-colored tailing piles slide down the hillsides, and saguaro cacti stand watch around this abandoned building above the old mine.
If you happen to live in Tucson or pass through Tucson in the next month, please come see my show Ocean to Deserts at the Ward 6 City Council office (3202 E 1st St, just behind the Rum Runner near Country Club and Speedway) from now until January 3.
The series begins on the rocky cliffs of La Jolla, CA and moves inland, ending in the arid grasslands at Cochise Stronghold, AZ. As you walk around the room clockwise, you will proceed geographically from west to east, from ocean to deserts.
While the rest of my group hiked up the river, I spent about half an hour standing knee-deep in water photographing ripples and a small rapid in the Aravaipa River. Here is one of my favorite angles on the water and rocks.
Aravaipa Flowing Water, Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, AZ (16″x56″)
Last weekend, I took a day trip to the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness to hike up the first few miles of the 11-mile Aravaipa Canyon. Cottonwoods, cat tails, and reeds line the water as it snakes through the surrounding saguaro cacti and ocotillo of the Sonoran Desert, and 1,000-foot canyon walls rise up on either side of the lush riparian area. Although conglomerate and volcanic rocks form the cliff walls, from a distance this part of southern Arizona reminds me of the Canyonlands and Zion.