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.

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© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Monday, April 3, 2017

Mesa Verde: North Rim Morning

Point Lookout, from the northern end of Mesa Verde National Park.
Early April, and time to drive back up into Mesa Verde to go to work. The warm-season crowds have not yet arrived, just the Spring Break families that have livened up the place after the winter doldrums. The days continue to lengthen and some shrubs and grasses are sprouting a little bit of greenery.

From just inside the deserted (it's too early for a ranger to be on duty) entrance station I pull over into the parking lot that is designated for visitors towing trailers to drop them off before driving up the steep tight switchbacks. The parking lot is empty this early in the season. It's a good place to stop and photograph Point Lookout, the iconic northern tip of the Mesa Verde itself. There is a trail to the top of it, from Morefield Campground on the south side of it. The gentle side.

Mancos Valley Overlook, April 2. The La Plata Mountains in the distance.

After the first set of switchbacks you come to the Mancos Valley Overlook. Take it. Especially on a springtime morning like this, with the clouds clearing as the early sunlight lights them up.

Looking south onto the steep slopes of Mesa Verde, from the Mancos Valley Overlook.
Driving on a ways, I go through the tunnel and up some more switchbacks, pulling over at the Montezuma Valley Overlook, which allows one to gaze down the other side, down toward the town of Cortez.

Morning at the Montezuma Valley Overlook, with Sleeping Ute in the far distance.
There I make several photos, captivated by the sunlit lumps of the distant Sleeping Ute Mountain, still largely covered in snow.

Panorama from Montezuma Valley Overlook.
Then the road climbs toward Park Point, which is -- no surprise there -- the highest point in the park. On this cold April morning it also means rising into and out of fog. A veil dance.

Sunrise fog near Park Point, Mesa Verde.
After Far View, where the lodge has yet to open for the season, the highway descends back to 7,000 feet and the Park Headquarters and Museum. Time to park the vehicle and get ready for work. Time to greet more visitors and share what I've learned so far about this World Heritage Site in southwest Colorado.

Foggy turnout, Mesa Verde.

Into and out of the morning fog, Mesa Verde.

Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado.

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© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg