Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sunset Cloud Colors, Northern Arizona

[Photo: Fiery reds at sunset near Flagstaff, Arizona.
Click on picture for larger version.]

Sunset this evening on the Coconino National Forest west of Flagstaff in northern Arizona.

Clouds make the sunset colors. Their positioning above the horizon determines how good it's going to be. If no clouds, there's nothing to reflect the just-set sun onto from below, like having no screen for a projector, or even a wall. If the clouds extend too far beyond the horizon they cut off the reflection. So they have to be "above" the sun without shutting it out.

This image was a pretty good one. If there had been more of a "slot" on the horizon it might have been even more dramatic. I positioned myself to have the silhouette of the tall Ponderosa pine add interest and a sense of scale.

You might also be interested in my Grand Canyon Photography blog.

See more of my photography at www.NaturalMoment.com

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Summer On Schnebly Hill Overlook, Arizona

I had been looking for a new, closer sunset photo viewpoint relatively near my home a bit south of Flagstaff. With so much Ponderosa pine forest around it wasn't easy. Wandering down this forest road and that, it was time consuming, but somebody had to do it.

I was enjoying the exploration, to be sure. Like sighting of the Ghost Railway through the forest, many miles of hand build railroad grade extending through the forest. And I mean rock upon rock, making gentle railroad grades where the ties were later removed. But not the rocks. Like a gray snaking pyramid, low and long, with pine trees grown up around and above them.

This weekend, though, I got back to exploring more of Schnebly Hill Road. It heads pretty much beeline west through the Coconino National Forest toward the Mogollon Rim, the tip-off point from the cool Ponderosa pine highlands of the Flagstaff area down to the red rock desert canyons of Sedona.

The somewhat rocky but sedan-negotiable forest road leads to Schnebly Hill Overlook. The cusp of the Rim. It's all downhill from there, like it or not. Spectacular. The dirt road descends so steeply and windingly that you have to decide. Stay up here, or drive down a very winding, steep road with death just off the edge.

It's a good dirt road, most of the time, if that helps. Take it easy and you'll be fine.

I choose to stay up top. After all, it is Sunday evening, I live up here, and I have to go to work int the morning. Makes sense to me.

Thanks to the cumulus clouds, sunset colors seem to validate my choice. People are gently finding their positions for camera shots. It's not that crowded given how spectacular it is. Rocky, sometimes steep dirt roads far off the beaten path deserve much of the credit.

With the sunset colors quickly fading, I turn my vehicle away, back toward home. A slow, gently bumpy ride back out toward the Interstate highway, then north in the dark to a satisfying bedtime. All seems well.

You might also be interested in my Grand Canyon Photography blog.

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