Snæfellsnes peninsula pokes out into the northern reaches of the North Atlantic Ocean. A glacier-capped 700,000 year old stratovolcano dominates the landscape in this national park, where craters rise up out of the cooled lava flows extending out to the ocean. I drove out to the western cliffs of Snæfellsnes peninsula to photograph the waves crashing against the basalt.
Ocean Waves on Basalt Flows, Snæfellsnes, Iceland
Near Snæfellsjökull National Park in northwest Iceland, highway 54 turns north and climbs over a pass. I stopped to photograph a lone hut near the top of the pass.
Red Hut on the Pass (near Búðir), northwestern Iceland (16″x49″)
I spent much of my time in southern Arizona searching for desert falls to photograph during the summer monsoon or winter rain storms. In Iceland, sustained precipitation and snow melt generate constantly flowing rivers and streams. Giant waterfalls cascade over cliffs every few hundred meters along the side of the ring road; it was difficult for me not to stop every five minutes, pull out my camera, set up my tripod, and shoot another panorama. Here is one of the many gorgeous locations along the Ring Road where dramatic clouds billow over cliffs disappearing into the distance.
Cliffs and Falls (near Budhir), northwestern Iceland (16″x41″)
We scrambled and boulder-hopped onto a small ridge above camp to watch the sun set over the Rincon Mountains. Rock Prow at Sunset, east of Rincon Peak, AZ (12″x18″)
A texture-focused photograph of the exfoliating bedrock and clouds east of Rincon Peak in southeastern Arizona.
Exfoliations and Clouds, east of Rincon Peak, AZ (12″x18″)
Just east of the Rincon Mountains and Mescal Road (Forest Road 35), a second, shorter series of hills pokes up from the desert floor. From a satellite view, I could see waves of rock with nearly parallel fissures running NW-SE through the hills. Sediment is draped over parts of the exposed bedrock like a blanket. This spring, we camped near a stream bed and spent the day exploring the landscape of shattered rock and high desert grass and cacti. I took a series of photographs of the exfoliating bedrock that appears as if it is shedding its old skin.
Exfoliating Rock Slab, east of Rincon Peak, AZ (16″x50″)
Exfoliating Rock and Clouds, east of Rincon Peak, AZ (16″x37″)
After reaching the top of Elephant Head, I stepped over to the west face of the rock and took a panorama of the fingers of eroded ridges and washes fading into the distance. On the hike down the backbone, I stopped to take a vertical panorama of the ridge leading up to Mount Wrightson, the tallest peak in southern Arizona.
Grass, Rocks, Clouds, and Erosion, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x45″)
Ridge to Wrightson from Elephant Head, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x30″)
This winter, I revisited a slot canyon at Tent Rocks National Monument in New Mexico that I photographed a few years ago. The eroded tube of rock in this vertical panorama sits to the left of the main slot. I keep coming back to this area because the repeating patterns of layered ash lead the eye upwards to a small window of winter sky above.
Tunnel to the Sky, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico (16″x24″)
After hiking up the slot canyon in Plaza Blanca, I turned around and headed back to the car around sunset. I took this panorama as the setting sun cast a bright light on this fin of rock jutting up out of the river bed.
Earlier this summer, I decided to take an evening walk through Plaza Blanca (the White Place), a slot canyon across the river from Abiquiu, New Mexico. Georgia O’Keeffe’s work often focused on this area, and a visit to the valley allowed me to imagine the artist painting under the open blue New Mexican sky long before I was born. My sister and I attempted to hike into this canyon a few years back, but we ended up getting accidentally sucked into a similar, parallel canyon to the east and south. This year, we were sure to ask for detailed directions and arrived at the White Place a few hours before sunset. The rapidly eroding landscape at Plaza Blanca is part of the Abiquiu Formation, which consists of redeposited volcanic ash and other sedimentary rocks that are about 20 million years old. The cliffs near the parking area form a wide valley that narrows into a slot canyon to the north and west. Afternoon summer clouds floated by overhead and swallows dove between the canyon walls as we wound up into the hillside. We started heading back to the car around sunset, leaving part of the area unexplored. I hope to make it back to Abiquiu soon so I can photograph more of the slot canyon.