Southwest Landscape: Bisti Badlands Hoodoo and Clouds

I'm back in Lightroom working on some of the images from our trip last fall to the beautiful Bisti Badlands in NW New Mexico. I still have a lot to get through but here is one I finished up last week: The early morning sun peeked out from the clouds and lit up this hoodoo. The clouds in the sky had an interesting texture to them as well, making this an interesting shot.

If you ever get the chance to visit the Bisti, don't pass it up! It is a beautiful place full of strange and wonderful things. Perfect for an adventurous photographer!

Early Morning Bisti Badlands Hoodoo

Here's another image from our recent trip to the spectacular Bisti Badlands: The early morning sun casts a warm glow to one of the many hoodoos in the Bisti Badlands.

During out too short time at the Bisti Badlands we tried to cram as many photographs as possible onto our memory cards. We got there before sunrise, but not knowing exactly where "the good stuff" was we wandered around a little before we found a nice section of hoodoos to photograph. By that time the sun was quickly rising above the horizon and the prime time for capturing images was fading fast.

We found a little slot canyon and wandered up it until we came across a bunch of hoodoos that were still mostly in the shadows. The problem was that everything was above us meaning we had to get up off the floor of the canyon to get decent views. I found a little dirt pile and scrambled up it, being careful to not disturb the fragile mud formations on the canyon walls. As I got to the top of the rise the sun was just starting to light up a bunch of the hoodoos with a soft, warm glow. I looked around quickly and found what I thought would be the best one to shoot.

This particular formation was across the canyon (about 200 feet away) and I was just able to get a decent composition using the 85mm on my 15-85mm lens.

Reader Poll-Which Sunrise Photograph Is The Best

I'm working through the images from our trip and starting to really dig into/play with  all the various post-processing options that are available to me (of which there seems to be an endless amount). I started working on another image from our visit to the Bisti Badlands, a shot taken a few minutes after sunrise. I started playing around with the image and before I knew it I had 3 different versions of the image, all done using a different technique. I generally like all 3 results but in a different way for each. So many choices and options!....... This brings me to a question, and I thought I'd ask all of you (or at least the 3 of you that read this)  :-) , which sunrise photograph do you like the best, number 1, 2 or 3? I have a favorite but I'm interested in seeing what Y'all think. If you could leave a comment with your choice (and why you like it, if you want). I think your feedback and input would be very helpful to me as I start to "develop" my post-processing routine. Don't be shy about why you like or dislike an image, I want to hear your honest opinion. All the input will help me improve and that's what I want to do.

I'll tally up the responses and reveal the "crowd favorite" in a few days and then let you know how each image was processed. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Here are each of the images, in no particular order (You can click on the image to view a larger version):

Here's #2

And here's #3

Thanks for your feedback and for participating!

A Taste Of The Bisti Badlands

I'm starting to work through all of the images that we took on our trip (man there are a lot) and I wanted to share a quick one from a very unique area that we visited, The Bisti Badlands. The Bisti is located about 40 miles South of Farmington, New Mexico so it's in the northwest corner of the state. I have wanted to visit the Bisti for a while. Pam, who grew up in Farmington, had never been there either so we made a point to set aside a morning to visit and hopefully get some good images. We got up at 4AM, staggered to the shower to wake up, had a strong cup of coffee and then started the 45 minute or so drive to the Bisti so we could get there for sunrise.  We got there just as the 1st rays of light were coming over the horizon. We got some good sunrise shots and then wandered into the badlands, not really knowing where to go (we'll get a map next time). Once the Sun came up a bit we were able to see some details of the landscape and began to head for all the neat looking rocks in the distance.

We found all kinds of things to photograph, many of which I plan on posting in the coming week or two but this image caught my eye as I was making my initial "run" through everything in Lightroom:

As you can see, this is one strange looking rock :-) They are officially called hoodoos but I think this one looked a little like an alien life-form frozen in stone. I had taken 3 bracketed shots of this so I combined them using the Enfuse for Lightroom plugin (which I reviewed a while back). I then took the image and ran it through Nik's Color Efex Pro to see what I could do to enhance the image a bit. I used the "detail extractor" to pull out the texture of the rock.

I've got a lot of images to go through and I'm looking forward to trying some of the filters in the Nik Software Lineup. I'd be interested in hearing from any of you who have used their products and have come up with some settings or "recipes" that seem to work well with landscape and nature photography.

Stay tuned for more images from the Bisti Badlands..........

Colorado And New Mexico Photography Trip

We just got back from a very enjoyable vacation and photography trip out West to Colorado and New Mexico. During the nearly 10 days we were out there we drove over 1400 miles and took over 1000 images of everything from sand dunes to medical marijuana signs. The Itinerary

We crammed a lot of destinations into the trip. We started off by going from Denver to Fort Collins where we spent a few days visiting family. After Ft Collins we headed south and west over to the Great Sand Dunes National Park (near Alamosa) for a day of hiking and photography.

From there we drove West to Farmington, New Mexico and then got up at 4 am the next morning and drove down to the Bisti Badlands, which is about an hour south of Farmington, in time to see the sunrise over the badlands. After a few great hours wandering the otherworldly landscape of the Bisti it was time to drive to Albuquerque, NM to meet up with a friend and fellow photographer/craft beer lover for a fun evening. The next morning (after a couple of strong cups of coffee) we drove 50 miles north to the capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe, where we were hoping to get some good images of the old town area but were beat to the punch by about 5000 people who were attending a festival. Then a cold front moved through bringing with it gray skies and gusty winds. That reduced our motivation to get up early the next morning and visit Tent Rocks so we slept in a little since we were tired from the previous night's activities. That just means we HAVE to go back there again (I hate when that happens) :-)

After a good 8 hours sleep we made the 300 mile drive up I-25 to Colorado Springs, Colorado to spend a sunset /sunrise at Garden of The Gods. After getting some good shots of the sunrise we drove up to Denver where we did an impromptu photo walk of the lower downtown area as we sampled some great craft beers. We then watched my hometown team, the Steelers, lose to the Broncos on Sunday Night Football :-(

The next morning (Monday, September 10th) we got up early to catch our flight back to Atlanta, which was delayed for nearly 3 hours (giving me time to write most of this on my new Nexus tablet).

Stay Tuned For Photos

All in all we had a great time. We absolutely love visiting this part of the country and hope to one day return there to live. Until then we'll just have to keep going out there on short vacation trips.

I'm hoping to get through most of the images from this trip in the next few days. My plan is to post a few of the better images from each leg of the trip, both here as well as on Google + and Flickr. But, until then, here's a very quick taste of some of what we saw :

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Stay tuned for lots more images from this trip in the coming days.....