Thursday, October 22, 2020

High Country Cattle Grazing

Am repeating this photo from the previous post, thought a better explanation was in order.

This high country is covered in deep snow every winter. The road you see here is barricaded, i.e. closed off at either end with the first heavy snowfall. It is not a maintained year-round road as no one lives up here year round. 

Young cattle and pregnant cows are trucked up here every spring, left to gorge themselves on the lush rich grasses in the fertile meadows over the summer. Then each fall it's round up time. Cowboys rustle the fat cows out of the dark timber, load them on trucks to be hauled back down to a lower elevation for the winter.

 Though they can survive the frigid temperatures, even Rocky Mountain elk leave for lower elevations every winter as they cannot find the amount of grass here they need to survive plus walking in the deep snow is exhausting. 

The only winter snow tracks found up here would be from birds, rabbits, foxes and coyotes which are light enough to walk on top of the snow... and the occasional snowmobile track.

Ride safe my friends, keep your distances


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Fall Colors, Smokey Ride

Planned a walk-about ride this morning in northern New Mexico, 
but walking outside was greeted with this...

View froim FS.jpeg

Riding ten miles south, decided to change routes from southwest to southeast... instead of going to Mora, head down to Ocate and Wagon Mound.

Black Lake Smoke.jpeg

The smoke stayed further south as the road turned to gravel...

Cattle Guard.jpeg

Crossing over the ridge and heading down thru the timber... smoke appeared to be getting closer...

Long Road ahead.jpeg

Spotted something white off in the brush... went to investigate.

Elk Ribs.jpeg

Either a hunter dumped the rib cage here or this elk did not survive the winter. 
Either way the ravens had a feast.

The Fall colors were abundant... in sections, 

Even when the aspen trees were bare.. fall is here.

An AdvRider heading north stopped to tell me that smoke conditions further ahead were bad
 in Wagon Mound. That's 15 miles away. Said his lungs were hurting.

Less than a mile further I hit the smoke wall, turned around... my lungs are not what they used to be. 
Too many cigars. Gotta protect what we still have.

Wall of Smoke.jpeg

Practiced a bit with the panorama feature on the iPhone. Smoke in the distance blowing east.

Backtracking found a good spot for a final ride photo for the day...

Rig under Aspen.jpeg

Riding thru Black Lake area, past the fire, spotted both fixed wing and helicopters dumping water. The wind is not blowing north so our Angel Fire condo should be safe, though not sure how sound we'll sleep tonight.

Ride safe my friends, sanitize and mask up.


Saturday, September 19, 2020

A Day of Photography

Finished some chores around the NM condo so I took off to see what interesting subjects the camera could find. 

Spotted an artist painting along the Rio Grande river between Taos and Embudo. She consented to my taking her photo as she worked.  The smoke in the distance is from the wildfires in California.

Those who know me know that my number one photography objective is to tell a story with a photo. 
So this one is titled "Can you see as I see?" 

I could not see the colors in the hills like she was seeing but that is what art is all about. 
And in many cases with photography too.

Next rode up into the mountains to the very small village of Las Trampas to visit the San Jose de Gracia Mission. Built in 1760, it is still in use today.

I admire this mission and the town folks who maintain it the best they can though the village is very poor.
Have visited and photographed this mission many times trying to capture it in the right light.  
Here is today's effort.

Next to this high dry desert mission  is a small cemetery for Priests or persons who have made personal contributions to the maintenance of the mission. Adobe buildings require constant work to repair and maintain in this harsh environment.

Then rode over the mountains down to Rancho de Taos. Many may not realize that Taos and Rancho de Taos are two different pueblos. The most photographed church in America is here in Rancho de Taos, the San Fransico de Asis Mission. Construction started in 1772, the mission was finished by 1815. 

In 1929, Ansel Adams took his famous photo of the backside of the mission.

Surrounding the mission are many old buildings and structures that are as old or older than the mission itself. Some are still occupied as residences, other converted to commercial use. 

This residence with the blue door and the dying sunflowers caught the camera's attention.

There is a horseshoe nailed above the entrance with heels pointing down. There are two different thoughts on this centuries old custom of hanging a horseshoe: heels up in order to catch the good luck falling your way, or heels down so that good fortune falls on all who enter.  How do you hang yours?

By now the sun was dropping in the west, leaving a warm kiss on the mission walls.

That concludes today's photo findings.  

Was able to practice my photography hobby, rode the BMW sidecar rig a couple hundred miles, 
so in all a great day.

Ride safe my friends, practice social distancing. 


Monday, September 14, 2020

September in the Southern Rockies

An unusual cold front channeled a snow storm down thru the Rockies, across Colorado and into northern New Mexico the week after Labor Day. Decided to delay the drive back to NM for a few days for the roads to dry.

Night time temperatures are now down into the 20's even though the snow is gone.  The aspens will not start turning yellow for a few more weeks, but they are still beautiful trees. Found a nice grove to snap a few photos of the BMW-EZS sidecar rig.

... then came across an aspen forest of young trees. Someone told me that aspens are all connected via roots underground. From the roots a new sucker spouts up, adding another tree to the forest.  Is that true?

Inspite of freezing nighttime temperatures, did venture out for a few more milky way shots. Did not see any shooting stars that were so prominent in August,  but the planets Jupiter and Saturn are still visible.

For the milky way shots, I get away from the lights in the village to avoid any light pollution.  My escape into darkness is the Valley of the Utes (Indian word for Elk). 

Later when I drove back down, the moon had risen. Too bad there wasn't a blanket of snow on the ground to reflect the moon's brightness.  Ah, well in a couple of months that will be the norm. 

Stay safe and healthy my friends


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Then the clouds

Being without s sidecar to ride here in New Mexico, I have focused on my photography hobby.  Out walking, was able to grab a few shots during the day.

Lying partially hidden in the sage brush, Grandma Doe guards the nursing area 
of the mule deer fawns while their mothers are off grazing. 

How do we know she is an older doe? The younger ones have the brown coloring up their necks and covering their faces. Grandma is showing her age with grey on the face and neck.
The fawns lie still, well hidden from the view of any predator... or photographer.

Grandma is content to protect her brood. 

Ever wonder why they call Angel Fire, Angel Fire? 

It's because of the occasional climate conditions that spawn a brillant sunset show. This is only the second time in six weeks we have seen the sky light up like this.

The first time I witnessed it years ago, my reaction was there was a severe forest fire on the mountain. 

Was able to grab a few more night sky shots before the clouds moved in last week blocking the stars from being visible at night.  With few clouds to deal with, made another venture out to capture the night sky. 

Why is the Milky Way more visible in the southern sky than the northern sky?  I do not know.  Anyone?

Why does it stretch from north to south and not east to west?

And why is it more colorful near the horizon than when looking straight up?
If you know the answers, please comment as I don't know.

Looking south from the pine forest, Saturn on the left and Jupiter, the larger brighter light on the right, are very visible in the southern sky next to the Milky Way.

Well... was lucky once more to capture a shooting star, the Milky Way and both planets in the same photo. The long dark hours and cold are now meaningless after capturing this image.

Was asked about a falling star versus a shooting star. From what I have observed, a falling star will drop more slowly toward the horizon with a fading glow, to disappear behind the tree line. 

 While a shooting star zips across the heavens in a burst of energy giving no indication it is heading toward earth. That's my amateur observation.

In googling the two events, many journal articles say they are the same thing... hmmm.  Scientific speaking, they may be correct. But that's not what I observed in the night sky. I'll stick with my definitions.

This week afternoon clouds move in, lingering around till early morning. 
So no more sky photo shoots, leaving me time for editing the shots I did capture.

With the tropical storm Marco and the hurricane Laura threatening the Houston area, 
Amparo and I delayed our return to Texas for another week. 

Am getting anxious to pull my sidecar rig out for a ride. 

Be safe my friends, mask up and keep your distance.


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Persistance Pays Off

Returned for a third try at night sky photography. With any luck, maybe getting a shooting star photo.  This time went out at 1:30 and stayed until 4 am. 

Jerry correctly identified the bright spot as the planet Jupiter with Saturn hovering over its shoulder. Is amazing how bright they both are. Clouds were drifting across the sky blocking portions then opening up new lights all night long.

Could not see anything in the darkness around me, suddenly a bark on my left was answered by another bark on my right. Then down front a high pitched snort followed by a meow behind me. A herd of elk had stumbled on to my location in the dark. They can see quite well in this pitch black.  But they were not happy this strange creator was standing in their feeding path. Finally they moved on in the night. My heart rate slowly returned to normal and I continued shooting. 

Around three thirty the event I was seeking happened. The only shot in the hundreds of photos taken over the last three nights was finally in the camera. A shooting star, or meteorite.
Was not skill but persistence to get the shot I wanted.

A small cloud drifted in to obscured Saturn from view, but Jupiter is as bright as ever and the milky way stood tall.

It's four am, 45 degrees, I'm cold, tired. Time to get some sleep. 

Stay safe and healthy ya'll.


Friday, August 14, 2020

Shooting the Night Sky

Well, running water photos has run its course.... I know, a poor pun. Learned what I wanted to learn on how best to capture silky water. Now on to another technique... dusk and night sky photography.

Here are a few samples of what I have learned so far. 

Cool Sunset
From the rains on the left to sun lit clouds on the right, blue sky in between... over the Rocky Mountains.

Blue Hour 
After the sun sets and before complete darkness, is called the blue hour.

Dead Pine
On to capturing the milky way rising from the pines a few hours later.

Taos Lights
Am guessing the bright spot is the sun reflecting off a satellite. It is there every night in the same location.

Really wanted to capture a shooting star, but that happens by chance. 
The ones I saw were a short streak then gone. Split seconds... 

How were these images captured? By a SONY RX10 III camera, lens set at 24 mm, f-stop 2.4, ISO 3200, exposures at 15, 20 and 30 seconds, with a two second delay.  Pulled out an old very heavy tripod to eliminate camera shake. 

And so the COVID-19 normal is avoiding others, learn something new, practice and sanitize. Now you know taking these photos I was far removed from the danger of meeting other people.  Though the danger of bears, cougars or other critters that go thump in the night, well... don't stray far from the vehicle. 

Stay healthy and safe my friends,