Saturday, June 10, 2017

Moonrise, Moonset, and Sleeping Ute Mountain

Totten Reservoir, Mesa Verde, and Sleeping Ute Mountain.
It was Full Moon time, that time of the month to once again try for great landscape photos featuring the moonrise.

In June, sunset occurs late, just after 8:30 PM, which is also about the time that the Full Moon rises in the east. So I had some time to kill.

I drove to Totten Reservoir just east of Cortez, in part because the late afternoon haze was making Sleeping Ute Mountain stand out on the southwestern skyline. Mostly clear blue skies, a nice breeze, the warming light of the lowering sun.

Sleeping Ute Mountain from Totten Reservoir.
Sleeping Ute Mountain is a small but prominent mountain range in southwest Colorado. It lies wholly within the Ute Mountain Indian Reservation, meaning it's off limits to non-tribal members except by certain advance tours with a guide.

Why is it called Sleeping Ute? To the right is the warrior's head, with his headdress flowing out. (He seems to have no nose, who knows?). His arms are folded across his chest, forming Ute Peak on the map. To the far left his knees are visible, and even the tips of his toes. It is said that Sleeping Ute will awaken when his tribe needs him, so take heed!

But to the east is the North Rim of Mesa Verde, the dazzling cliffs that form the backdrop to the town of Cortez. It was there that the moonrise would appear over. Earlier in the afternoon I had alerted some visitors going into the park to watch for it. City dwellers are unaware of such things, and they delight in being given such tips to enjoy with their families.

Moonrise over the North Rim of Mesa Verde, from Cortez.
The sun went down and the shadows of Mesa Verde as seen from my vantage point near the southern edge of Cortez deepened. It was getting too dark for my favored kind of moonrise landscape photos.

But about 9 PM the Full Moon (actually a bit past 100% illumination, but who's counting) started to peek over the rim of the Mesa. Shots made a few minutes later were too wildly contrasty to satisfy me.

In the morning, though, the rest of the Full Moon event is moonset at dawn. So I was back out at the lake for more. I had slept in, and had to scramble out there to see what was available. I was not disappointed.

Moonset at dawn, Totten Lake.

Photo Location: Totten Reservoir State Wildlife Area, Montezuma County, southwest Colorado.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg


Friday, June 2, 2017

Mesa Verde Wildflowers: Fendlerbush

Fendlerbush blossoms, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
The first day of June in Mesa Verde National Park. I stopped at the Far View pueblo sites for an early evening walk. Being on the mesa top, it's an easy walk, and it was a beautiful late afternoon.

Before long I came upon more Fendlerbush (Fendlera falcata (F. rupicola), which have been blooming for a while now. Still they are not done, at least not certain shrubs in the park. With the late afternoon light illuminating them from behind, they glowed even more. The deep shadows behind only served to make them stand out even more.

Their flower buds are pink, but as they open they turn a very pure white. The four petals make them an easy identify up here. 

Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado. See more of my photography at www.NaturalMoment.com.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mesa Verde from Park Point

Looking south from Park Point, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
Early May, and the spring season is well along. Not far from the Memorial Day weekend start to the real crush of visitors. A great time to explore the park before it gets hot and crowded.

I had been working at the Museum and was driving home. The past few days had been wet and cold. The warm weather residents that were visiting were miserable and complaining a bit. Hey, springtime in the Rockies....

But the cold front passed, and cumulus clouds were accenting the blue sky once again. As I drove north from the Museum on Chapin Mesa, I stopped at Park Point, highest knob of landscape within the park. It has 360 degree views all around.

 Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Great Sage Plain Greens Up

Winter wheat fields and Abajo Mountains, Dove Creek, Colorado
Going home, early May. Dove Creek, southwest Colorado.

Actually I had come up from the lower Dolores River at Slick Rock, enjoying the swollen river and the boaters floating down to their take-out landing.

Then I drove up over the landscape, over high mesas, and came back out to Highway 491. What a view. The fields of winter wheat so green in the cold wet springtime soil. The Abajo Mountains in the distance, in Utah 20 miles west. The wet skies dancing about, teasing a bit more rain.

Photo location: Dove Creek, Colorado.

See more of my photography at www.NaturalMoment.com.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

La Sal Mountains Springtime Sunset

La Sal Mountains at sunset from near the Bears Ears National Monument boundary, San Juan County.
Late April in southeast Utah and the Four Corners country, and the weather was moody. I like the variety that it provides.

Driving west out of Monticello toward the Abajo Mountains, the road veers northward toward Utah 211, the highway into the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. But before you get anywhere near that portion of the park, you cross the invisible boundary (since it's so new) of part of the eastern boundary of Bears Ears National Monument.

That evening, my eye was not on going into the Needles, but on staying high to watch how the sunset light would play out onto the La Sal Mountains to the northeast, near Moab.

As the sun slid below the western horizon, the low angle of its light lit up the still snowy peaks of the La Sals. Warmer, then a bit pink, too.

La Sal Mountains peaks at sunset color.
Zooming in with a longer lens, I made a series of overlapping shots from which to make a super high resolution panoramic image in Adobe Lightroom.

Soon the colors had faded, and it was time to drive home in the twilight. 

See more of my photography at NaturalMoment.com.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Moonset Over the Abajos

Moonset at sunrise, near Monticello, Utah.
I had been intending to take off in the other direction, until I exited my front door and saw the just past full moon setting over the Abajo Mountains. Hmm. Did I have time to do something about it? I did.

So I drove out to Loyds Lake on the edge of town. A favored vantage point. I quickly parked, grabbed my camera bag and tripod, and all but trotted down the gravel path. Because I could see there was no time to waste.

Loyds Lake at sunrise, with the moon setting over the Abajos.
 Whenever the moon is rising above the horizon, or setting in the other direction, it's amazing to see how quickly our Earth rotates compared to how we think of it (if at all) while we are caught up in the day. The frame of reference that the horizon brings is telling.

The moon was creeping down toward the still snowy Abajo Mountains west of town. The sun was rising as well, giving the landscape a warming glow while the moon was cool and blue. After all, it was still way out there in space.

Photo location: Monticello, southeast Utah.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Mesa Verde: North Rim April Evening

Mesa Verde's North Rim escarpment from the Geologic Overlook.
"Light forms the image" wrote legendary photographer Edward Weston (1886-1958). Meaning the quality of the light at the time. The type of light, and how it played off of the surfaces in the scene.

Our world is lit by our Sun. But it is our atmosphere that filters that sunlight in many ways. Clouds have much to do with it, by their absence or presence, and by what type of cloud it is.

View north across the Montezuma Valley, with the Knife Edge lit up.
On a recent April evening as I drove along the North Rim of Mesa Verde, I had the pleasure of watching the afternoon sunlight and clouds play across the scenery.

Hazy evening silhouettes from the North Rim of Mesa Verde, with Sleeping Ute Mountain in the distance.
It was hazy down in the Montezuma Valley, making the light separate ridges and peaks from near to far.
Dead tree like a statue at the Montezuma Valley Overlook, Mesa Verde.
Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado.

See more of my photography at www.NaturalMoment.com.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg