Sacred Rock

During our trip to Colorado we made a quick detour to Farmington, NM, Pam's hometown, to take care of some family business. Farmington is in the NW corner of the state, very close to the "four corners". Farmington also is right next to the Navajo Nation, the largest area retained by a US tribe at approximately 27,000 square miles in size. One of the prominent features of the Eastern section of the Navajo Nation is Ship Rock, a nearly 1,600 foot high rock formation rising above the desert floor. Ship Rock is an important part of Navajo religion, mythology and tradition. 

Here's a map to show you where Ship Rock is in relation to the rest of the world.


Pam and I made the 30 minute drive out from Farmington to photograph Ship Rock. We didn't have much time and it was late morning when we got there but fortunately there were some clouds in the sky. I took a number of images at various focal lengths. Here is one taken at 50mm (100mm equivalent) from a distance of perhaps 3 to 4 miles:

Sacred Rock - Ship Rock Rises Above The Desert Floor

As with most of the images from this trip, I had a polarizing filter on the lens. I also bracketed 3 shots at my "standard" -2, 0, +2 levels and combined the images in Lightroom. I also used the Nik/Google plugins of HDR Efex Pro 2, Viveza 2, Dfine, and Sharpener Pro to bring back some of the color, detail and drama that this image has in better light. I'm pleased with the result though next time we're out in the area I want to get out to photograph Ship Rock at either Sunrise or Sunset.

Black and White Anyone?

For some variety I took the image above and opened it in Silver Efex pro to convert it to a B&W image. I like the final product and I think B&W landscape shots are great, especially if there is something dramatic in the scene. I think a 1,600 foot tall stone monolith qualifies as dramatic, don't you?

Sacred Rock Plate 2

A Question

Which image do you like more the color or B&W version? I'd be interested in hearing you preference. Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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!

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 :





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