Best of 2018

I did a Best of…. back in 2016.  Not sure what happened in 2017, but thought I’d provide a couple series of Best of’s for this years photos to share.

flames_comp_IR-2.jpg1.  Tinder Fire    Of course, the most memorable (and terrifying) event of the year was the fire that stormed up our hill on April 29, 2018.  We were fortunate enough to be spared… many weren’t so lucky.

burnmist_IR_IR.jpg2.  Post Fire     The post fire made for some surreal photos and devastating landscape, which I’m happy to report is starting to come back.

raybeamstar_IR.jpg3.  Renewal    Trips to the Mogollon Rim brought new light, old growth, and peaceful respites.

_40A5228-HDR_IR.jpg4.  Sublime Point   The North Rim Sublime Point offered an awesome vantage point for nature’s wonder.

rocktreesplit_IR.jpg5.  Bright Angel Point    The popular Bright Angel Point along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon makes for magical scenery.

Maple Blanket_IR.jpg6.  Maple Blanket    An early October snowfall chased the fall colors off the trees creating a blank of fall color on the new fallen snow.

Aspenleaffall_IR.jpg7.  Sedona Fall    Oak Creek Canyon burst with yellows and reds along the serene creek.

maplestream_PS_IR.jpg8.  SnowMelt    Snow melt creates run off among the woods of Mogollon Rim.

_40A3974-Pano-Edit-Edit_LR-Edit_IR.jpg9.  Ruins Doors    This magical place overlooks the valley below as it has for centuries, seemingly untouched.

Ramrelease_IR.jpg10.  Ram Release  While this is more an animal highlight than a photographic one… it was a special moment for us this year, to be a part of re-locating big horn sheep to their natural habitat only a few miles from us.

For more Best of 2018 check out post …

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.


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.


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.


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.




See my additional post here…




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.



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.



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.



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….

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.


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.


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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The Beast is Gone

People have asked me if I could have any camera, what would it be.  I have always said I have the exact gear I want, a Canon EOS 5D, Mark III.  I am very happy with my camera gear.  It’s the latest and greatest professional lens, camera body, etc.

So our newest acquisition to help my growing and exceedingly successful photography has been a new camper for our 20 year old truck.  We love our truck, and the camper top that has been on it has served us well.  But the camper top was starting to show it’s age.  So we decided to custom build a new utility body for our truck, and a pop up camper top.  The new improved truck would be the latest ‘tool’ in my photography arsenal.  We could go out to the rim watch the sun set and rise over our beautiful overlooks and sleep in the bed in the pop up camper, enjoy the comforts of its hot & cold running water, toilet, dining table, etc.

We took a 2 month trip to Washington state in November 2016 to pick up our custom camper… and again for 1 month in July 2017, returning just a month ago, to do some warranty repairs.  We spent months customizing the bins, drawers, and cabinets with hand crafted pecan wood organizing touches.  It was perfect.  With that done, we were ready and prepared to use our new tool, finally ‘retire’, and enjoy our environment.

Well… I guess that just wasn’t meant to be.



On John’s way to fire school he smelled smoke.  He got out to look under the hood, which was already all ablaze.

Several off duty fire fighters on their way to fire school stopped to help out. They used 5 fire extinguishers from people’s personal vehicles. People stopped to throw fire extinguishers at him from across the double divided highway he was on.

When the fire got in the cab and became unsafe for passersby, he abandoned trying to save the truck and instead backed everyone away from it. As soon as he saw the tires bubbling and bulging he knew it was unsafe to be around. Just after he hustled people from standing around watching him work and he corralled them away, his large tires with high pressure loads burst and exploded in a fury, blowing pieces of truck at everything in it’s path.  He had one fire guy call DPS to have him stop traffic both directions when the gun from inside the truck starting going off and ricocheted off of rocks above his head. Bullet holes could later be seen exiting out the side of the truck doors.


When saving the truck became futile he turned his attention to the side hill that was starting to catch fire and sprayed foam on the live growth to prohibit a wildfire.

By the time DPS and the fire engines got there, a long 35 mimutes later, John was directing traffic on the freeway away from his burning truck (20 years old this year – a gift from his folks).  They stopped to ask him where the driver was (John was wearing his Fire dept blues).. they had no idea he was the ‘victim’.  John even hooked up the hose to the fire engine to put out the fire for his own truck.

I’ve said it before.. he is my hero.


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There’s not much left of her.  The fire was fiery hot.  It melted the steering column… all that was inside is GONE.  On the day after we think of all that is lost.  Not only the truck and camper, but little things like all his fire department gear, his fire helmet… his tooth brush… his cowboy hat he has had like, forever… our prescription glasses… our many marked up and commented on maps of our travels… our computer.  It can all be bought again.  It’s just things after all.


This morning, on the day after, I feel tremendously thankful and relieved that I woke up next to John this morning… and he went in to the fire house to pick up someone’s shift since he did not go to fire school afterall.


Where there’s smoke there are pix


I am finally taking heed of all that I have been reading, learning, and experiencing in taking all these pix.  Go when inclement weather rules.

For years I thought anything but a blue sky was a disaster.  Now, a blue sky makes me cringe.  I am finally starting to get it… ‘hey, it’s raining… let’s go take pix’.  ‘It’s snowing out, let’s go take pix.’.  Crazy, right?!  Those interesting, moody skies, make for … wait for it…  interesting, moody shots.

Case in point, we are being inundated with smoke in our neighborhood thanks to the Forest Service.  Their ‘prescribed burns’ are meant to help keep the fires at bay.  I’m all for that… and can put up with some smokey air now and again to assure that our fire risk is abated.  And as long as we’re getting smoke… let’s get pix.

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I had thought the smoke would diffuse the light and allow me to bring out my fall colors by isolating my subject.  So we left early in the morning to see what we could capture.  The fall colors were unaffected by the burns… but the early low sun streaming through the trees made for some interesting shots.



Milk Ranch Road


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Last I blogged, I spoke about the Mogollon Rim and it’s many faces.  We continue to explore it’s personalities and strive to find new places to capture it’s essence.  This week’s trip took us to Milk Ranch Rd, which is kinda on-the-rim-off-the-rim.  You still get those great views, but not the great winds (if you’ve been to Mogollon Rim you know what I mean, it’s always windy).



We found a great spot and stayed overnight to get sunset and sunrise shots.    The sun casts shadows across the canyons creating dark lines, making it ever challenging to capture.  But I’m up for the continued challenge.

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Unfortunately, on this particularly trip I forgot my tripod.  Pretty humorous that was an issue for me, as I have never been a tripod shooter.  It always seemed such a pain.  Now that I have embraced it, I can’t live without it.  I can set up the tripod and take those low light photographs (sunrise, sunset, stars) while maximizing my aperture to let lots of light in but still keeping my ISO low to avoid noise.  Star photos were a bit dicey though taken on a sweatshirt.  The glow of our fire cast a orange hue on the pine trees above.