Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Open Sesame – Doors and Doorways

I’m an out-of-doors sort of person, and my photo albums reflect that. This photo immediately popped into my mind when I saw the challenge theme today. This is my idea of a doorway, and it’s almost the only door I’ve ever photographed.

Maybe I just don’t like doors. They represent separation, closing off, exclusion. They can be so imposing when they’re closed, and so limiting even when they’re open.  I like this door. It invites but does not insist. It gives you options, but it is interesting enough not to ignore. And it is humble in its surroundings.

This is the door I choose. Thank you, Tina, for focusing my attention on doors today. 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Road Taken

These photo challenge subjects so often coincide with an experience I just had! I’ve just driven a rather harrowing 5.5 miles from my office back home in a white-out blizzard of Wisconsin spring snow. The county road goes up a steep incline of glacial terrain, and the snowplows hadn’t gotten to it when I and 4 others began the ascent. I was slipping sideways and barely able to get to the top in first gear with my 11-year old Honda Accord with front wheel drive. Needless to say, I wasn’t taking any photos during this journey!

Now that I’m safely home at my laptop, I’m thinking back to another wild road experience. I was so excited to travel through the Jemez mountains in New Mexico in October…the bright yellow of the cottonwood leaves, the blue sky and the red rock were absolutely stunning! The next day, we traveled the same route and were caught in a hailstorm that almost stranded us at the summit under two inches of icy pellets. Of course, I don’t have photos of that part of the trip, only the sunny splendor of the initial journey. 

street

scilla in NM
The Road Taken

Photography 101: Warmth

Hmm.  The sun does not seem to be cooperating with Word Press today.  The skies in Wisconsin are a flat gray, and I’m in bed with bronchitis.  Warmth is going to have to come from some stored files.  Let’s start with early morning, shall we?  There’s nothing like a cat for finding the sun’s first warming light.  This is Portia, my brother’s cat:

California Cat

California Cat

California boasts some dazzling sun.  I found that challenging when taking pictures in the middle of the day.  I took several shots of a fallen redwood; its roots were spread out like a sunburst.  The texture and lines were amazing.  In high contrast, it’s rather like an acid trip. (Not that I’d really know…)

California trip

California trip

Seriously, that’s not my style.  I am a Nature Girl.  Here’s a more natural look:

California roots

California roots

At the end of a day of dazzling sunshine in New Mexico, the sun slants in at a low angle, warming the red rocks:

Setting warmth

Setting warmth

Finally, the sun lights the clouds a brilliant fuchsia at its departure.

Waning warmth

Waning warmth

Hey, the sun came out!  Guess it’s time to get out of my sickbed and make some breakfast.  I hope your day is warm, whether from the coffee in your mug or from the sun itself. 

P.S. Later that afternoon….hey!  What’s that flaky stuff floating down through the sky?  Is it?!  Yup!  It’s snow. First of the season, too.  🙂

Photography 101: Water

Water in the desert.  It’s a huge factor, and not in the way you’d think.  Water shaped the desert landscape, even though you might think there’s none there.  The canyons and caverns of the American West were formed by water.  I heard a very enthusiastic Death Valley National Park ranger named Jay Snow expound on this amazing fact.  He was right.  Death Valley is all about water.  So is the Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns and all those other iconic desert places.  Many of them were once part of a vast inland sea, believe it or not.  Water is ancient and powerful and wild.  When we’re not tampering with it, that is.  (and that’s a huge topic for another post on my ‘In Wilderness…’ page)

Upper Falls at Bandelier

Upper Falls at Bandelier

Carlsbad Caverns ceiling

Carlsbad Caverns ceiling

 

 

Photography 101: Street

street

Highway 4 near Jemez Springs, New Mexico

The Photo 101 prompt says, “try to capture an establishing shot: a wide-angle photo that sets up a scene. It might mean moving back some steps, or finding higher ground (like climbing stairs) to fit all of your scene in one shot.”  Here’s the ‘higher ground’ I used to get this shot:

scilla in NM

photo by Steve

Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction

Refraction is the change in direction of a wave due to a change in its transmission medium.

Storm in Western Oklahoma

Storm in Western Oklahoma

We set off from Milwaukee, Wisconsin last Saturday on a cross-country trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico to attend the Wilderness 50 Conference.  As we got to western Kansas, we noticed clouds gathering to the west and north.  It’s difficult to judge distances across such a huge, flat landscape.  I thought maybe the storm was in Colorado.  We cut south through the Oklahoma panhandle, and tumbleweeds flew across the highway.  Steve thought this would be a great place to get out of the car and take a picture.  Unfortunately, I missed the lightning flashes on the horizon (I wish I’d brought a tripod to take a timed exposure!).  The winds were crossing in all directions, curling plumes of rainfall came down from the clouds in mixed directions, as if forming quotation marks across the sky.  What are the winds trying to say?  We camped that night in the Kiowa National Grassland, at the Mills Canyon Rim campground (elevation 5900 ft.).  The rain barely wet the high desert ground, but the WIND was fierce!  Eventually, it blew the clouds away, revealing a waning gibbous moon and a host of stars undimmed by human lights anywhere in the area.  In the morning, the winds were so strong that I had to put our camp stove underneath the picnic table and bank it with coolers in order to keep the flame from blowing out.  By the afternoon, the wind was gone, the skies completely clear.  When the sun set, the air got very cold, very fast.  And a blanket of stars swept over the sky, banded by the Milky Way. 

Waves of wind, changing direction, crossing different mediums (clouds and stars) are an example of refraction and one of the pleasures of wild space.  We are here at the Wilderness conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Preservation Act into law and to find our direction in the call to protect and respect Earth.  When the conference concludes, we will venture back into wild lands in New Mexico for more adventures.  Stay tuned!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy

Sailing off into the fog.  Setting off on an adventure with a sturdy ship, not certain of where it will take you, but fixed on a course nevertheless.

dreamy denis

  I am about to embark on a journey tomorrow, making real strides towards my dream.

cranesWe’re driving to New Mexico, to participate in the Wilderness 50 Conference.  I want to meet people invested in wilderness, in land and species preservation, in the future of our planet.

ranger

I want to work toward making a difference, taking a different tack, striking out on a new route toward sustainable living.

PG hiking

Dreams give us an awareness of ourselves, loosened from daily constrictions.  They give us a vision of change.

052Do you have the courage to live the change you dream about?

© 2014, essay and photographs, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved