Blue Ridge Shine

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If you’ve been following my blog you’ve noticed I’ve been on a somewhat futile quest to build a collection of photos of obscure lakes around Arizona.  It was Blue Ridge Reservoir that started the whole mission.

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We did an overnight trip to Blue Ridge and got some cool shots which got me to thinking about those awesome sunset / sunrise reflections in the water.

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So we visited a lot of dry water holes… and encountered a bit of smoke from prescribed burns along the way.  So why not combine the smoke and the lake photos by a re-visit to Blue Ridge Reservoir.

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I love it when a plan comes together!

Thanks to my friend Sue for sharing in this amazing experience.  It was a lot of fun!

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Mood lighting

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As I continue to improve my photography, I think about what that means.  It’s all about the light – dawn & dusk, we are so often told.

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It’s complicated though.  Light is bright and shadows are dark, how does one even them out and still add emotion, mood, and interest?

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Light is the master of depth.  We need light to make our ‘hero’ shine, or our supporting cast fade into the background.  In this way we can isolate our subject so we know what (or who) it is.

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Fog and smoke provide a fantastic mood factor, allowing us to separate the foreground from the background.  While our controlled burns up north can be dreary to look at… they can also make for some very moody exciting pix.

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Light rays illuminate and become visible through the smoke or fog in the air, distinguishing different elements of the life in the forest.

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The fog creates a diffusion through the harsh light, from which comes clarity.

Best of Animals, 2018

A year wouldn’t be complete without my wildlife photos that I strive so hard to capture.  This year has been especially unique with some terrific ‘up-close-and-personal’ shots of a wide variety of wildlife, including bison, antelope, and big horn sheep.  Picking the top shots is the hard part… what an awesome problem to have. : )

antelopelk_IR.jpg1.  Antelope   Greens Peak Loop near Show Low

blue_PS_IR.jpg2.  Blue Heron    Carneros Lake

ramtree_IR_IR.jpg3.  Big Horn Sheep    Greer, AZ

deersmirk_IR.jpg4.  Mule Deer    Grand Canyon South Rim

_40A5780_IR.jpg5.  Mule Deer    Grand Canyon North Rim

bison fight_IR.jpg6.  Bison    Raymond Wilderness Area

Greatapproach_IR.jpg7.  Great White Egrets    Happy Jack, AZ

_40A6663_IR.jpg8.  Baby White Tail Deer Fawn    Happy Jack, AZ

daisibull_IR.jpg9.  Bull Elk    Happy Jack, AZ

pygmy on_IR.jpg10.  Pygmy Owl    Happy Jack, AZ

 

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 ….kritterspaw.com/2018/12/27/more-best-of-2018/

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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It’s A Boy

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If you remember a post I did a little while back about Pat’s Fawn (https://kritterspix.com/2018/09/17/pats-fawn/), we’ve been fortunate enough to see it a few times and kinda watch it grow up, which has been a real joy.   It’s starting to loose it’s spots.

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But it’s still playful and skittish… and wonderfully fun to watch.  Mom still dotes on her… except, apparently it’s a him.

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I caught a glimpse of a little bump on his head where his antlers will be soon.

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We can still call him Spots though, right?!

Mountain Wildlife

One of my favorite things about living up north in the mountains is the wildlife we get to see.  I never saw wildlife in the big city.    Here on the mountain we see a wide variety of species.

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Like this elusive fox.  I have seen fox on occasion, but have struggled to get a good shot.  This one was no exception, taken in the dark with a high ISO, spotlighted with a flashlight.  I had a hard time focusing in the dark, even with the flashlight… and today’s camera’s aren’t intended for manual focus.

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We also saw this curious raccoon.  He was searching for grub.

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We watched him (her?) for quite awhile (albeit difficult in the dark)…. another animal we rarely see, particularly as they are nocturnal.

Incidentally, the fox came at the same time… but didn’t stick around.  The fox seemed quite put off by the raccoon, and quickly circled the raccoon then made haste and left.  Pity, I would have liked to have gotten a better shot.

Grand Canyon North Rim, Point Sublime

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While at the Grand Canyon North Rim, we decided to take in Point Sublime, another overlook we had never been to.  The map shows it’s only 17 miles… so we figured it would take maybe an hour to get there.  NOT!!

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We stopped at the Backcountry Office to get our Permit to camp there.  The Ranger told us that we should take the long way for our truck, instead of the shortcut for short wheel base Jeeps.  We had no idea the trek would take almost 4 hours.

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The dirt road is not well marked, and the rough map is difficult to follow.  The drive along the way is lined with aspens and a gorgeous drive.

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The turn at Kanabownits was basically the last sign we saw.  We turned around once, but decided to stick it out.  The road along the way was worth the drive… we were anxious to see the overlook.

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At the end of the long drive we were rewarded with a stunning vantage point.  We set up our camp as we took in the views we had all to ourselves.

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Photos just don’t do it justice.  It was worth the price of admission (free!).

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