Oak Creek Canyon

Yesterday I took a drive up to Sedona and hiked West Fork Trail in the Oak Creek Canyon area.

The first time I hiked this, the trail was pretty much alive with the reds, yellows and oranges that signify that fall is here. The second time there was less color and this time the color was the spottiest and sparsest of all . Many things factor into this so you never quite know how much foliage there will be until you get there. Surprises are good, right? This year there were patches of color here and there but those patches were fading and few and far between. Many of the leaves had already fallen and yet, some of the other leaves had not yet begun to change from their normal green. And they likely will not get that chance to change as the canyon is shady and cooler than Sedona so it will probably get a frost soon, stopping that process and leaving nothing more than dead leaves.

The trail is about 4 miles in and then back and requires 13 creek crossings. People have put rocks and tree limbs across to facilitate staying dry but that is not a given. Expect wet feet. The rocks can be slippery or not level and the tree limbs even harder to catch stable footing and I did get wet. But once you have your feet soaked for the first time, who cares about the second time….it relieves some of that pressure to remain dry. 🙂

Photographing the canyon can be difficult because of the extremes in light; highlights and strong shadows in the same scene. It probably would be a good place to play the HDR card but I do not do HDR so try to wait for complete shadow or lessened highlights as the sun goes in and out of the clouds. Rather than just concentrating on shooting landscapes, I attended to what was up and down, things like fallen leaves and alien-looking pines reaching for each other at the tippy top of the canyon walls.

All in all, it was a nice day to be out in Mother Nature. There may have been more people out on the trail than I would have preferred (although far less than there would have been on the weekend) but as we got there early, most of the people that we saw were hiking in as we were coming out. And really, who can complain about any day that you are out in nature?

A Day at The Winery

“Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic and the serious smile”~Homer

Can time spent in terms of hours be considered almost perfect? If so, yesterday was one of those days.

Beautiful autumn weather (perfect temps and puffy clouds), a bit of photography, good company, food, wine and music and sightings of some of the prettiest eye candy in the aviary world, peacocks.

If not the peacocks, it is the red barn that welcomes you. Old cottonwood trees provide some shade and grass and potted flowers of all kinds contribute to the greeting. This is Arizona and the lushness and greenery are a bit of a rarity. It is a special little place out in the rural town of Chino Valley, a real find. And so I ate some good food, sipped some nice wine and realized that life’s little pleasures really are the icing on the proverbial cake. In all of its current difficulties, this world is a beautiful place and I am grateful for these kinds of wonderful and simple pleasures.

Dream

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Delphinium Dream

Floating memories,

meandering through my thoughts.

cause my heart to dream.

Quite frankly, what is meandering through my thoughts right now is a throbbing toe. My big toe got run over by a shopping cart today. I am not going to say who did it but it is someone I know VERY well……I am such a klutz sometimes! I hope I do not lose my toenail. That happened to me once before on the same toe but that was due to doing considerable downhill high elevation hiking. Let me tell you, it is very hard to fake nail polish on an absent nail! All this is a minor tribulation in the scheme of things and in light of what is going on in this world today. Very minor.

I have decided that I will shoot for 2 posts a week here. That will enable me to hit at least 1 of them! Consistency with blogging is really about habit and I figure that starting slow might be better to develop my consistency muscle. And who knows? If the spirit moves me, I can always post more than intended. See you in a week! Umm, I mean 3 days. 😉

 

Protesting

 

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Defunct Summer Cabin from the 1940s

Trees noting the chill

are protesting in yellow

waiting on springtime.

You never know what you are going to find as a photographer when you return back to scenes that you like. I have experienced complete changes to a place that I enjoy photographing. Examples of this include a favorite abandoned shack torn down, trees and natural growth cleared out from a beautiful untouched space or just the natural progression of nature’s transitions. Today’s change was a “No Trespassing” sign at the entrance to the street area of this old cabin. It used to say “No Parking”; someone has gotten more possessive of their street. I decided that I’d stand by the sign and take the image anyway and even crept further into the no-fly zone to get the comp that I wanted. It was a bit of a snubbing of the rules to do so but there are some rules I am okay with breaking, provided that it does not harm anything or anyone.

I’ll go back again in the winter when the snow covers everything and record this cabin once again under different conditions. And one day, I know that I may return only to find no old cabin as someone will inevitably decide it is an eyesore. That I could handle. What I would be most sad about would be if I were to come back and find no big, old, crooked, proud cottonwood guarding the entryway.

And that is why I myself protest at times and break the rules….because one day, whether it be in a week or a century, that scene will change in its entirety. Before that happens, I want to record its unique beauty, no trespassing sign or not.

Ride

Wind throughout my hair,
I ride in silent spaces.
Time seems to stand still.

Old Bike Decorated for Autumn

Ah, but time always moves on.

And it seems that the older you get, the faster is whizzes by. I do not believe in regrets but I do wish when I was younger that I had the attitude and outlook I have now. We all care too much about fitting in, pleasing others and guarding our egos more when we are young. As I have aged, I find I have honed in on what is truly important to me and how I want to live in this world. I think having that clarity comes from both knowing oneself better as time goes by and realizing and accepting that we are all beautifully flawed in our own ways.  I still strive to improve but I no longer need to hold onto meeting perfectionism’s standards.

I am in charge of the ride, I mostly direct its course. Yes, I may get a blown tire tube here and there and I may huff and puff up a hill.  But I also now enjoy the journey more, don’t rush to engage the brakes as much and allow myself to feel the wind throughout my hair. One never knows how long the ride will go on so you may as well appreciate the goodies in your basket and feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. Ride on! 😉

Land

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Dragonfly Land

Darting to and fro,

seeking sun and place to land.

Wings sparkle with light.

I like my flower and insect images dreamy. I think it is boring to make a flower or bug image that looks like it should be in a field guide so I like to create something that makes a statement when photographing them. I think not just about “this flower” or “this dragonfly” but more about “this flower or dragonfly’s world”, or the world in which I like to imagine the subject living. For me, this can be accomplished either by showing the subject’s perceived personality or by creating a unique look to the environment. This image is more about the latter.

The truth may be that I likely am thinking more about creating a world in which I’d like to be living if I were the subject: soft, dreamy, filled with wonder. It becomes  more about “The Fantasyland of The Dragonfly” as opposed to “This is a dragonfly image”. I am not sure if that makes sense to anyone else but that is how I think.

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Here is a flower photo that illustrates my point above.  This was about creating something of the world of the flower as opposed to just a textbook depiction of what it exactly looks like. In this instance, photography becomes more about conveying my own artistic vision more so than recording a flower on pixels. Certain things I prefer to create more true to their actual nature,  for others I like to create a dream world. What can I say? In some ways I am a dreamer, in others, a realist.  Then my image becomes the “Land” of me :),  my own unique interpretation. And that is why we have artistic pursuits, to share our own personal vision.

Sigh

Day ends with a sigh,

breathing color from her mouth.

Orange, pink and blue.

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The day has to end with a sigh; 24 hours holding it all together must be taxing!

It has been a while since I have been down to my favorite little spot to shoot the sunset. I live about 5 minutes away from this lake and I will hike here fairly often; I just have not purposely run down here at sunset in a long time. So, on Wednesday night I got into my car at 5:30 PM with the intent of getting some dusk images. The clouds looked promising for a decent color show and while it was nothing spectacular, it was still quite pleasant.

I am a pink sunset person. While the glaring fire of an all-out orange-red sunset is more visually attention-getting, I gravitate towards the more subtly beautiful, less showy pinks and purples. In my opinion, instead of overpowering the landscape, they tend to compliment it. I prefer cool colors: in my clothes, my decor, my sunsets, and if given a choice, I will tend to shoot with my back towards the big orange ball in order to catch the more serene colors. Now that the weather is finally cooling off, I hope to do this more often and sigh along with the day and its final hurrah, capturing what I can, camera in hand.

Change

Red Maple Leaves

Summer yields to fall,

fire igniting the trees.

Pleasant sight to see.

It is a very pleasant sight to see, indeed. I always loved autumn most out of all the seasons; the gorgeous foliage, turning the oven back on to do some real cooking, the smell of wood-burning fires in the air, apple picking and being able to cozy up in a sweater. I tend to have more energy in the fall (especially now since I live in the desert) and I end up getting out much more.

When I was a kid, Halloween was my favorite holiday. Yes, even more so than Christmas. While you got better and bigger things out of the Christmas holiday, Halloween allowed you to pick whomever you wanted to BE for the entire day. Not just at playtime!  And then after school you got to run around the neighborhood with friends in your chosen persona, begging for candy. You could even overdose on sucrose by 4 PM, although Mom always told me not to eat any of my goodies until she could check them for tampered Tootsie Rolls and such. I took my chances….after all, how would she ever know that I ate 10% of my stash? 🎃 Fun times.

 

 

Bruise

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I bruise you,

you bruise me.

We both bruise too easily.

Too easily, to let it show……

I love you and that’s all I know.

Lyrics, Jimmy Webb, sung by Simon and Garfunkel

For some reason, I thought of that song when I was trying to figure out what I would like to write for this post. I heard it not too long ago and had always loved it but had forgotten how much so until it came on the radio while I was driving. Jimmy Webb wrote the lyrics for two of some of my favorite oldie but goody songs, this one and Wichita Lineman. Both are achingly poignant and so earnestly filled with emotion. When I listen to a song, I want it to take me somewhere, some emotional corner of a room in my brain or heart that I have either yet to discover or that I am aware of but normally keep under lock and key. “All I know” is a song that can do that for me.

The wildflower branches in this photo were so simplistic and stark against the bare background and I specifically took this image with the intention of adding a texture to it for mood. I think the mood here goes well with the lyrics. It is a bit melancholy and delicate, stark in its feel, somewhat imperfect, somewhat perfect, pure and yet damaged and tinged with a rosy hue…just like love can sometimes be.

An image, like a song, can take you somewhere. And by that, I do not mean a location. It can take your heart for a whirl, your mind for a ride and your soul on a journey. Even if just for a few seconds. Sometimes, it just takes you for a twirl around the dance floor and that is A-okay, too.