Fossil Creek

You may have seen my post here… https://kritterspix.com/2019/11/08/fossil-creek-nd/ regarding Fossil Creek.  I was pleased with the photos I got during that visit, so we decided to make the trek to do it again.

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After the long drive along the bumpy dirt road to get to the creek, there are several ‘entry’ points for one to ramble down the hill to walk along the creek.  We have been a number of times over the years, and enjoy the serenity of the water gushing over the rocks.

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It makes a wonderful place for a picnic to relax and let your troubles wash away.    (I know, I know, if only it were that simple.)  It does though provide a peaceful respite from our hectic lives.

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We did notice that Fossil Creek has become very overgrown and ‘scrubby’.  In taking photographs, I had a hard time cutting the clutter out of my pix.  You may notice that all these photos are tight knit to the horizon with no sky.  That’s because the horizon above the water was tangled and busy.

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Sometimes you just have to cut the clutter from our vantage point.

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Elk Profile

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I remember when I used to visit my husband’s folks in Morman Lake, AZ.  They would be all excited to share ‘their’ elk with us.  With a binoculars in hand, if you squinted real hard, you could see the little dots of elk crossing in front of the fire house, about 1/4 mile away.

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John’s mom still remembers fondly how close they got to see the elk.  I laugh.

If she had any idea of how close we see the elk today!

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They are not Buffalo

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You know you are retired when you start doing Bison Workshops for fun!  The first thing I learned, is they are not actually Buffalo… all American ‘buffalo’ are actually Bison.

Bucktooth_IR.jpg There are two herds being re-introduced into Arizona that are direct descendants of original bison that roamed the plains in the 1800’s before their virtual extinction.  One is in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is a growing herd.  The other is managed by the AZGFD at Raymond Wilderness Area outside of Flagstaff.

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We learned how to identify the boys from the girls.  Beside the obvious, the boys have a more thick curly fur on their foreheads, and their horns curl in.

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We were told that these big guys were a relatively young herd, and none more than 3 years old.  I can only imagine them when they ‘grow up’.

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We got this amazing opportunity to literally see them up close and personal… and it was a real thrill…. one that I would do again in a heartbeat.

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Thanks to Mike and Deanna for joining us on this fun adventure.

For more bison pix, see my post… https://kritterspaw.com/2018/11/10/bison-are-back/

Great Whites

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I thought I had seen it all… at least most of the animals there were to see.  (Though I still have never seen that elusive mountain lion.)  The other day we even got the opportunity to see a Ringtail Cat.  Which was super cool.  I didn’t get a photo, alas… they are nocturnal.  I felt fortunate enough just to see this odd little weasel-like creature with a raccoon-ish big stripped tail bigger than his body.  (You can see a photo of him here…  https://kritterspaw.com/2018/10/30/ring-tale/).    But I digress.

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The other day, we were outside and this ‘swarm’ of white birds was circling overhead.  They settled in the tree in our front yard!  Moreover, they stayed!

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I’m guessing they were migrating from here to there… where ever the here and there are.  But in transit, they needed a rest, and found a good spot right here!  Wow!

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I can tell you, I got little else done that day!!!

So, they appear to be Great White Egrets… while they are ‘common’ birds…. they certainly aren’t common in our front yard here in the mountains.  So I was delighted to have them find rest at our home.

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They were here… then they were gone.

I was happy to entertain them… or moreover, have them provide my entertainment, albeit for a short respite.

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Mind the Shade

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There are so many things to remember when trying to make a good photograph.  I recently talked about Keep It Clean, and reducing clutter in a photo.  Another important consideration is Shade and Light.

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In the photo above, it’s easy to see the large disparity between exposures – intense shade and shadows in the water, and blown highlights in the sky and trees.  To make the photo successful, I could have done an HDR to take multiple photos with the proper exposure for each separate condition (Shadow & Highlights), and them merged them later.

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Or, using the light that I had, I could cut out the blown highlights in camera, and turned my attention to where the light was more even and exposed for the shadows just by looking down.  Cutting out the highlights yielded a more interesting and focused composition.

Remember… mind the Shade & Light, when composing that pic.

 

Keep it Clean

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Fall colors had me ga-ga like a little kid with a new toy, wandering around snapping shots of all the beauty everywhere I looked.  But when I got home and looked at my photos, I got a lot of ‘scraggle’, like that below.

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While I tried to be aware of all my photography rules: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify,  I pulled out contrasting yellow leaf color against dark trunks and green backgrounds.  But what I got was ‘scraggle’… busy, busy, busy.  Somehow when running around snapping the photos I didn’t see the little twigs that added clutter and distraction.

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Instead, I should have been keeping it CLEAN, by pulling out singular subjects and isolating them for a more interesting and uncluttered shot.

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The shots I took that CUT THE CLUTTER, took the prize and won my favor and the viewer’s eye.

First Snow

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We had already scheduled a trip to check out how fall colors were coming along when we got 6″ of fresh heavy snow.  The cold snap helped the colors along, bringing out brilliant reds in the maples, and golden yellows among the oaks.

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The ground was covered with a blanket of fallen color on the fresh white snow.  It was a thing of beauty to walk among nature and all her glory.

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We even found these fresh bear tracks leading through the forest, who surely must have been enjoying the cool weather and the awesome environment we were witnessing.

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For more Fall Color photos check out my blog here…  https://kritterspaw.com/2018/10/20/snowfall/

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Tinder Run-off

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We have been trying to take advantage of the moody skies, fog, and rain to capture the aftermath of the Tinder Fire.  Only yesterday, this ‘water hole’ was dry.  But with a recent rain storm, and lack of vegetation destroyed by the fire, the water ran down the hill and formed this instant lake, crippled by ash scum coating the top.

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It’s one of the many features and stories told by the aftermath of the Tinder Fire that I want to capture for posterity, having lived through it.

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If only these signs of the fire could talk and tell the story for themselves of the fear and danger approaching.  The charcoal and cinder, soot and burn left in it’s wake as testament to the flames that rolled through.

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It’s a new day post – Tinder Fire, and may we all remember the horror and effect of forest fires and the camaraderie of others during difficult times.

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See my additional post here… https://kritterspaw.com/2018/07/22/tinder-aftermath/

 

 

 

Tinder Aftermath

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They opened the forest today, against my advice.  Not that they consulted me… but I made sure to voice my concerns.  We have had 1/2″ of rain in the last week.  That hardly seemed like enough rain to justify opening up our burn areas to traffic (and campfires), but thankfully we have gotten more rain today.

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We were anxious to see the effects on the forests we call our backyard.  While it has a tremendous amount of burn, scorched earth, and sad landscape, I was relieved to see some green trees.

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There was new growth already cropping up which we found moving and inspirational after the trauma our forest has had.  It made me think of the resilience of our community that continues to re-build and heal from this terrible event.

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I actually found the ‘burn sculptures’ to be fascinating and eery.  The textures and character left by the fire scar has now become part of our new forest, and I thoughtfully walked through our new landscape and tried to capture some of the tales it tells.

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I hope to get back out there, and document some of our forest’s stories, and will share them as they unfold.  For now, I was just happy to be able to walk among the trees, see several elk doing the same, and finding patches of green and new growth.

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Tinder Fire

It’s been a month since the Tinder Fire, and our community continues to heal.

I first wrote about it here….   https://kritterspaw.com/2018/05/02/tinder-fire/

We had a community craft fair this July 4th weekend to celebrate our freedom and independence.  Talented members of community shared their talents, hand crafted goods and tokens of the Tinder Fire, along with their stories of desperate helplessness during the fire.  It seems an appropriate time to remember our own turmoil, our survival, and tenaciousness to rebuild.

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This fire was like ‘The Devil’, as it tore through our lives with terror in it’s eyes as it faced us down in our neighborhoods and communities, with it’s 40′ flames and spiraling gusting winds.  It created it’s own fire storm and took daylight and turned it dark; green turned to charred black; and ground to ash.

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But we have persevered and are re-building.  Only a month later, many who lost homes have excavated the ruins and cleaned their grounds, as they prepare to set new foundation and build back up their lives and their homes.  We have seen more fire-wising since the fire, than ever before, as people rake pine needles and clear dead and downed trees.

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The goodness that we have witnessed during and after the event is what I want to remember and not forget.  Neighbors helping neighbors; the few that stayed putting out fires and doing what they could for their own communities; the many donations of water, food, and supplies to the fire house and their communities; donations of time and money to help those in need.  It makes my heart feel good to see so much kindness to so many.

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It’s in a time of despair that the best (or worst) comes out in people.   Our neighborhoods are forever scarred, but we are stronger together, more so now than ever.

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