All the R’s fell into place

Our several day storm blew off to points east this morning but low clouds hung over the summit of the mountain until late in the afternoon.  At times like these I was grateful for the tram cam that let me see whether or not the mountain was covered in fog or the sunshine I was waiting for.

After it was readily apparent that the clouds would lift or burn off, I headed out for the tram, wishing that I could have had an earlier start.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, although I was suspicious that the snow pack would probably be wet, or close to it.  All the snow that had fallen over the previous two days was gone from my back yard, and even more telling, my pond was not frozen over.

I knew that there would be opportunities to capture the white against the blue, especially the deep blue of the high altitude sky.  I had no idea that I would have a photographic opportunity that I just probably won’t ever have again.

I went for the snow, the sun and the contrast that actually makes some of the images quite difficult to shoot since the camera cannot record nearly as well as the eye.feb1a

Besides the view and the raw beauty of the mountain, I think that one of the things I enjoy most about my winter excursions is the extreme nature of it all.  Fresh snow on a 45 degree slope with drop offs just one step away makes for a deliberate approach to the day.  The high alpine environment with its howling winds and bone chilling winds makes a good deal of this mountain off-limits, especially in the winter.feb1hpan1Today I was not to be the first, for there were two sets of footprints on the trail.  I couldn’t tell if they were coming and going or if two people came across the trail from the north.feb1vpan1The trees bend to the east, but since the majority of the snow blew in from the east, it’s the west side of everything that is coated in a layer of packed snow. (The image above is a panorama made from three vertical shots. It’s a bit blurred in one spot but it’s the best I could do under the circumstances.)feb1rimeiceThe snow underfoot did turn out to be both wet and crusty. True to form, the exposed slopes were the first to melt and in some places the trail was covered in just an inch or two of slush.  For the first several hundred yards I walked only in my boots and switched to snowshoes only after I got tired of crunching through other footsteps.  Also, the snow that was falling off of the trees had filled in many of the foot prints on the worst slopes.  I decided it would be safer and easier to return on a packed path and took the time to strap everything on.

True to form, the trail was deserted.  This was my fifth trip to the top of the mountain this year and third time that I was completely alone.feb1vpan2 Another composition of three vertical images.  The south peak is in the background on the far right. On a big screen the enlarged image gives you a great perspective of the slope on this side of the mountain.feb1southpeakFortunately the last of the clouds had moved off to the south and soon evaporated in the late afternoon sun.feb1vpan3Although the ambient temperature was only 27 degrees, the focus of the sun at high altitude quickly was melting the covering of snow.  You can see the water on the rock on the right.  Just a couple of hours prior one of my friends told me that great sheets of ice were falling off of the rocks just a bit lower down on the mountain.  I suspect that may be my next effort, trying to catch the experience of cascading ice.feb1hpan2My primary objective this trip was to get out to an overlook that you can spot just beneath the cloud on the far left of the image.  There is a bright patch of snow that can barely be seen on this image, but on the full-sized photo you can see it clearly. From this point I suspect that it is about a half-mile away.

That overlook has a great view of all of Albuquerque and points west, but it also has a great view of a significant part of the southern range of the summit.  My thought was to shoot a panorama of the southern range in the bright light, then hopefully get one in the golden light, and then finally another when it turned pink for just a few moments as the last light of the sunset spreads over the mountain.hpan14imgMy first panorama is a group of 14 vertical images that reaches deep into the Manzano mountain range. This is what I was planning to capture when the sun began to set.  I had planned to sit out on my perch over the city and just wait for the light to change.  Because it was so far from the tram however, I wasn’t really happy with the idea of hoofing it back in almost darkness.  I don’t mind a twilight crossing of the snow, but I was concerned about ending up in the dark.  There was a head lamp in my backpack as an emergency backup.

I moved around for a second set of images that focused on the unbroken snow in the foreground.feb1hpanunbrokenAlthough I was happy with the unbroken snow and I thought it would reflect the light well, the primary snow-covered face of the range was not visible from this vantage point.  I decided to break the snow and circle around to where I could the face of the mountain clearly.

That’s when I saw it.Feb1FirstmoonFrom here, and with the normal lens I was using, it didn’t look like much and I shot a few test images with the lens I had, but it still had not clicked that this was a unique situation.

Here’s what was so unique.  If I hustled up closer to the ridge, the moon would disappear as I got closer.  Then every time it got a bit higher in the sky than I wanted, I could just walk closer to the mountain and set up for it to rise again.

But this would only work on Sunday.  Monday’s moon rise would take place about 50 minutes later and the sun would be set before it rose above the ridge.  So here are the variables, fresh snow and the moon rise in the clear after the snow, crossing the ridge a little after 5pm.

How many days a year does that happen? Remember, the snow melts of the trees generally in one or two days max.  Oh, yeah, you gotta be there with the camera and the big lens as well.

I was excited as I changed lenses and headed off toward the ridge.  A bonus was that I would be closer to the tram on my walk back.white&MoonBlogNext, a panorama in the golden light.vmoonpan1

Feb1goldenmoonFinally, the moon in the Sandia.
feb1sandiamoonAll in all it took just over 2 hours to get all of these.  I got back just as it turned dark but didn’t need my headlamp.  After my last set of moon shots my fingers were so cold that I had to stop and put them under my jacket to warm them up enough.  As soon as I could I put on two pair of gloves for the trek back. All in all it was worth the effort.

Posted in Landscapes of New Mexico, New Mexico Sky, Snowshoeing in New Mexico, The Sandia Mountains, Winter Hiking in New Mexico | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

White to Night – Fresh Power on the Summit , January 23, 2015

click on images for enlargements

Late Thursday afternoon as the last vestiges of the latest snow were clearing the area I thought about riding the tram up to the summit to get some photos in the late afternoon sun.  The only problem was that other than the summit, all of Albuquerque was bathed in sunshine.  The peak was socked in with a layer of cloud that would just not dissipate.

I had a full morning schedule so by the time late afternoon rolled about I was ready to try my snowshoes out on what was supposed to be 8 to 10 inches of fresh snow.
Freshpowder1As you can see in the image above, the sidewalk is completely filled with something like 3 feet of drifted snow, while a couple of hundred feet away on the exposed ridge there was no snow at all.

The boundary sign that marks the start of the connecting trail to the Guest House about two miles away is in the middle of the image above, and on the left of the one below.  Someone has broken a trail into the woods in the second image, but since that is a sheltered path, I was pretty certain that it would already be packed down and well trodden.  I chose the connecting trail with its open exposure and great views.Freshpowder2After a quick slog through a couple of  one to two feet drifts, the trail became more exposed and the snow depth dropped to somewhere between 6 to 8 inches.  Freshpowder3The connecting trail generally faces either south or west and is either exposed or open.  On the southern exposed faces, the snow melts the fastest, and in fact there was a section of slush between these two images.

The great thing about hiking this day was the 32 degree temperature and the absence of wind.  I was able to ditch the hat and gloves which made all of the camera work so much easier. Freshpowder5I use MSR EVO ascent snowshoes, picked especially for the upper reaches of the La Luz trail and the trails around the summit.  Considered climbing snowshoes, they are equipped with steel rails underneath as well as having a crampon brake.  For hiking on snow that is subject to the freeze-thaw cycle, and climbing steep pitches, they are great. Freshpowder6One of the objectives of this trip was to photograph the snow in the last light of the day. Known generally as the golden hour, in New Mexico, especially at this time of year, it’s more like the golden half hour, if even that.  Sunset was somewhere around 5:22 and the first golden light showed up on the mountain about 5:08.   The difference between these two images is subtle, but the bright white afternoon show is starting to change color. Freshpowder-gh-pan1Not only does the snow reflect the golden color, but so do the rocks and the ponderosa pines, espcially when the light hits them just right.  golden2Because I knew the light was fading fast, I stopped at this section of unbroken golden snow, grabbed a couple of images and headed back for the tram.  I had only broken the trail for half a mile out, but at 10,000+ feet in elevation, I had already had a pretty good workout. golden3It was 5:14 and the deepest gold was reflecting off of the mountain and soon I hoped, it would turn pink.  It is said that the mountains get their name from the Spanish word for watermelon, Sandia.  In the next several images you can see that the sun has almost set, and thats when the pink rays light up the mountain.

fresh-powder-sandia-hpan2Granted, the felspar that is in the rock also reflects some of the pink light, but I find that the best time to experience the show is when it reflects off of freshly fallen snow.golden5

golden4The last dash of pink disappears from the mountain just after 5:27.  At this time of year you have 5 minutes to get your shot, so you better be where you want to be, because you certainly don’t have much time to work with.

That’s why I turned around where I did, because I knew that I did not want to be stuck in a section of the trail without any exposure.  The pink may be nice, but it does not really penetrate the forested slopes.Freshpowder-last-pinkI knew that I could make a bit better time on the way back, since I had already broken the trail on the outbound section.  As you can see, the slope here is sometimes 45 degrees and there is not always a whole lot of space to work with.  You don’t want to be in a hurry on a steep slippery slope.fresh-power-fading-light

Freshpowder-end1It is only 5:47, only 20 some minutes after sunest and darkness is spreading rapidly across the mountain.

freshpower-iphone-pan1I had timed the last section of my slog back by the sound of the tram as it made its way up the mountain.  You can hear it slow as the trams cross the second tower which indicates that you have maybe 7 minutes to get to the building to board the next one down.

The only problem for me was that as soon as I arrived, it was announced that the next tram would not board for 15 or more minutes.venusI took the extra time to catch an image of Venus over Albuquerque.

Posted in Albuquerque and Environs, Hiking, Landscapes of New Mexico, Snowshoeing in New Mexico, The Sandia Mountains, Winter Hiking in New Mexico | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Summit hike, January 10, 2010

If it’s Saturday and I’m in Albuquerque you will frequently find me on the mountain.  It’s a routine and I’m pretty stuck on it.  But this Saturday when I woke and saw the blanket of cloud covering the mountain I lost all motivation to even think about climbing it.

I’ve not climbed to the summit since November, or maybe even October of last year.  I’m out of good climbing shape and then when you add to that the fact that the upper third of the mountain has sloppy snow and ice on the trail, you have to then add hours to the total hiking time.

About 11:00 I saw that the skies were going to clear and I had a burst of inspiration and started throwing together my clothes and other gear.  But then I sat down and started to add up the hours, and decided that even if I got on the mountain at 12:30 I could extend a fit 3 hour hike into an unfit four and a half hours, and then, adding for the snow, be looking at possibly six hours or more to summit.

I decided that it was time to take out the tram pass and head for the summit and skip a torture session.

1.10ascentIt hat been a week since I had last been here and my primary purpose was to check out the trails to the south of the tram and then walk along the connecting trail toward the saddle.

Unlike the trails north of the crest parking lot, the main trail heading south from the tram was very packed and would not have made for good cross-country skiing.  Hopefully this next week brings new snow and the cycle of packing down the snow will start all over again.

SouthPeak1I had hoped that the ice fog that blanketed the south end of the range near my house would have extended to the tram but there was almost no evidence of it from the day before.  However, the south peak, six miles distant, was still covered in the remnants of the ice.

Since I love panoramas, I added this one of the view to the south peak.


As I mentioned, the trail was not really in great shape for skiing.



After passing the tram I stopped for a minute to put on my spikes because I was sure I was going to be slipping and sliding on the next section of the trail.

In some places the snow was almost gone.  This very spot was featured in my entry from last week when it was covered in snow and bathed in the golden last light of the day.


Meanwhile the occasional burst of cloud provided the afternoon’s mysteries.


The trail conditions covered every possibility you could imagine on the mountain, wet, dry, muddy, slushy, deep snow and a crown of snow filling in the trail.


When I was in line to get my ticket at the bottom a couple of guys announced that they were going to hike to the summit and ride the tram down.  The guy was dressed in cargo shorts, low top running shoes and a long sleeve shirt.  It never ceases to amaze me what people try to do on the mountain.  I warned them about the snow, and since I was at the tram at 4:30 I know that they had not made it to the summit by that time.

I did meet a hiker just a bit past this section and he was tired and sick of the snow.  He said he had been on the trail for 6 hours and I know that he had about 40 more minutes to go.  Happy for the rest he chatted for a bit and told me that he had been advised that there was a short cut in the corner of the trail to avoid this section and its 45 degree slopes that can be really treacherous when they fill with snow.

He told me there were some aspens marked with ribbons and I recalled that I had seen them a week or so ago but had no idea of why the ribbon was attached to the trees.  I walked past them and sat out on a overoook in the sun enjoying my perch at 10,000 ft until more cloud covered the sun and the temperature dropped by 20 degrees in 5 minutes.

I reacquired all of my layers from my pack and headed back for the tram, intent on finding the “by-pass” that would take me to the hard packed summit trail.


The route is there alright, and is one of the steepest pitches I have climbed in all of the Sandias.  It’s a 1:1 slope for about 200 feet and tapers off a bit for the last 100.  The climb was more of a “haul yourself up from tree to tree” while trying to deep from sliding down the mountain in the mud.  Once I started I was committed to finish and I did.

However, if the trail is good to the crest house, I think I’d rather ascend that way and then walk through the woods to the tram.

This is my first attempt to photo the route, a stacked panorama that should have a couple more images to make it complete.  The route finishes in the upper right hand corner of the photo as it follows the tree line up into an intersection with the meadow at the top.  Click on the image to enlarge.


As expected, the trail just over the ridge was hard packed and quite icy.  Spikes are recommended.


Cross country skier waiting for the tram. Great way to end the afternoon.


Posted in Hiking in New Mexico, Landscapes of New Mexico, The Sandia Mountains, Winter Hiking in New Mexico | Tagged | 1 Comment

A wolf in the graveyard of the volcanos, Monday, January 5, 2015

I knew that the full moon has been given names at various times, and I’ve photographed some of them in the last several years.  I didn’t know that there was a name for each month’s full moon until just a couple of weeks ago when I saw a poster advertize somewhere or another.  I didn’t pay it any attention until I saw the press about the wolf moon of January.

Saturday night I watched the moon rise and heard the coyotes howling and then wondered if I would wake early enough to see it set.  Although I did see it very early Sunday morning I decided that it was too early for me to be out on the cold porch to get photos. I knew that if I waited a day I would have more ambient light on Monday.

I set up the night before so that I would not have stumble around in the darkness looking for tripods and lenses and the like.  And as the moon rise / moon set tables predicted, there it was, right on schedule. The first image was shot at 6:53 am, and the final one just 21 minutes later.  WM1One has to be ready to shoot sunsets and moon sets at this latitude. WM2As the moon dropped lower and lower on the horizon, I worried that a band of cloud might obscure the final moments, but fortunately they thinned out in short order.WM3For the first set of images I had my largest lens attached to a camera mounted on a tripod, but as the ambient light increased, I brought out the second camera, and rested it on top of the tripod mounted camera for a stable shooting platform.

Without the zoom, the moon appears small on the distant horizon.WM4To the north, the Sandias are outlined by the first light of dawn.WM5Meanwhile, to the west, the moon begins to distort in the light on the horizon, still partially obscured by a thin band of cloud. WM9

WM7This final image is my favorite, as the wolf moon sets behind the Albuquerque volcano field.WM8Next month’s full moon is the snow moon – perhaps I’ll try to get to see it from some place where there is a lot of snow.

Posted in Albuquerque and Environs, Landscapes of New Mexico, New Mexico Sky | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Golden Hour in the Land of Enchantment

Most photographers know about the golden hour, that period of time just after sunrise or just before sunset when the light is long and colors are magical.  In the Land of Enchantment however, our golden hour is often cut a bit short.

The amount of light one has during that last hour varies greatly with latitude.  The closer you are to the equator, the faster the sun sets.  New Mexico is not anywhere near the equator, but it’s a lot farther south that where I used to live in Michigan.

At any rate, what started my quest on New Year’s day is the kind of site you find in this photo.watermellonSome might call it the Alpen glow on the mountain, others say that the name of the Sandias comes from the Spanish word for watermelon because of the color of the mountain at sunset.

Hiking on the mountain in the late evening after a fresh snowfall gives one the unique experience of watching the landscape turn from white to gold to pink.  These were the colors I set out to try to capture with fresh snow on the mountain.

I checked the weather, started dressing in layers and loaded up my car with all of the clothes I would only put on in the parking lot of the tram.  There is no need to overheat on the way.

nyd1 I had been contemplating the hike all day, but waited to leave for the summit until it was clear that the trailing edge of cloud cover would dissipate and I would have sun on the summit.  I didn’t leave the house until well after 3:00.  I knew that I would not have a lot of time on the summit, but I was hopeful.nyd-2-3 The connecting trail from the Tram to the LaLuz trail was not in what I would call really bad shape, maybe just bad shape. It was obvious that the few people who had broken the trail did not use snow shoes, so it was quite rough and uneven.  The freeze-thaw cycle made for a rutted hike.nyd2L Even though the snow was only inches deep on some of the wind-blown corners, I decided that I would put on my show shoes so that I could help level out the deeper snow for the next time I came up to hike.nyd3L The connecting trail that runs north from the tram is one of my favorite places to hike in the Sandias, primarily because I almost always walk from north to south and it’s almost always a “new” trail for me.  Besides, it has some of the most dramatic views in the mountains.nydVpan1 As I started shooting I ran into a problem that I had not encountered with my previous “hiking” camera, that is that I was not using a wide-angle lens to be able to capture all of the scene that was in front of me.  I ended up shooting a lot of vertical images which were then stitched together to make vertical panoramas such as the one below.nydVpan2Because of the fact that I had to fight with the trail for a good portion of the hike, I only ended up somewhere between one half a mile and three-quarters of a mile from the tram.  Since I knew that the sun would set quickly, I turned around and headed back, anticipating a rapid drop in temperature once the sun set.

As it was, the winds were not heavy, probably around 10 -20 miles per hour, but the temperature was only 17 degrees F.  Once the sun sets the temperature drops another 10 degrees sometimes in an hour.

I hoped for good photos, but I also was realistic about returning before it got dark.

nyd4L The snow has begun dim in the late light as I have turned back toward the tram.  This panorama is now my computer background, spanning both of my monitors.  It’s great on two screens.nydss1Now come some of my favorite moments, the time when the mountain turns to gold as you watch.nyd-gh1 Wisps of pink can be seen in the cloud just behind the tram.nyd-gh2Perhaps there was some cloud on the horizon interfering with the sun, or maybe there was not enough dust in the air for a truly pink sunset.  But as the sunset proceeded into its last gasps, a tinge of pink crossed the mountain.nydPink2I suspect that if there had been more snow to reflect the light, there might have been more pink in view.  nydPink1 No matter what, it is fleeting, lasting for less than five minutes on the top of the mountain. nyd-ss2I grabbed my first sunset shot of 2015, not full of drama, but the artist behind all of the enchantment in my images.

nyd-lastAs darkness advanced up the mountain I packed away all my gear, camera included.  However, as I was standing outside I took out my phone to get one last shot before boarding the tram.

Although this trip was not as dramatic as some of my expeditions to the summit, I count it as a success.

Posted in Albuquerque and Environs, Hiking, Hiking in New Mexico, Landscapes of New Mexico, New Mexico, New Mexico Day Trips, Snowshoeing in New Mexico, The Sandia Mountains, Winter Hiking in New Mexico | Tagged , | 2 Comments

You had to be there

Click on images for larger photos.

I suspected that Sunday would be one of those days, and it turned out that it was.  There was no way that anyone could get the images and experience the day like I did without being immersed in it.  True to form it was fleeting, and at times dangerous, but for the prepared, it was one of the best hikes I have ever been on.                                March2firstThere were forecasts of tremendous amounts of snow in the east mountains, forecasts that ended up being just that, forecasts. The reality was that somewhere between 6 – 8 inches accumulated on the upper reaches of the Sandias.

I had thought about trying to beat the storm on Saturday but a sore ankle sealed the deal and I got to spend my afternoon wrestling with a microwave instead.  Some days the body says not today and so I figured I’d watch the weather for Sunday.March2SecondThroughout most of the day the mountain was obscured in dark cloud.  It rained off and on at the lower elevations there was no snow to be seen at all until quite a bit past noon.

I checked the radar and then the summit cam and saw nothing but really dense fog.  Then I checked the ski cams at Santa Fe and saw how the clearing there would be advancing toward Albuquerque.  I started to gather my gear.

Once the first significant breaks began to appear I loaded up the car and stopped just as I was pulling past my house because the sunlight was rolling across the mountain.  I knew that if the light cooperated, there was opportunity for high drama on the summit.  Since I have a tram pass, I decided to ride to the top and walk the crest trail in anticipation of some good images.

I was not disappointed.  march2cOn the way to the summit the sun broke out and I grabbed the easiest camera to fire off some shots, that of my cell phone.  These three images were all shot through the tinted windows of the tram (and then adjusted with Photoshop).  I’m very happy with the results from my Galaxy 4.  In fact, since I’ve got an upgrade available, I’m quite sure that I will upgrade to the Galaxy 5 as soon as it is available. march2b March2aBy the time we were just about to dock I had my Cannon G12 hiking camera out and got this image as we were coming into dock.  I love being up on the mountain just after a storm.March2dFirst image off of the tram, you can see the low cloud approaching from the west.  During my time on the mountain the ambient light kept changing like it would with a three-year old playing with a dimmer switch. It got dark, it got suddenly bright and then seconds later it was dark again.  Only toward the very end of the hike did the clouds dissipate and let a more constant flow of light onto the mountain.March2eCovered in fresh snow the trail head always looks barren and daunting.  Quite frankly it can be. This is why I stopped and put on my hiking spikes over my boots so that I would have good traction for whatever was underneath all that fresh snow. March2fSix to eight inches of power was just on the edge for wishing that I had brought up my snow shoes.  However, as I went along, I was actually happy that I had left them behind. I’d rather take them out into 10-12 inches of fresh powder.march2gI think that there may have been 2 or three people on the trail prior to me. In many places the snow had already fallen into the tracks.March2g2Just after rounding one of the first turns in the trail the dimmer switch turned to full sun and I had to stop for the photos. I felt like I was hiking in forest of frosting.March2g3Looking north and then south.March2g4It didn’t take long and there went the light. I decided however to string together a series for this panorama.  It took three images to cover the field of view. When you blow this one up you can get an idea of why you don’t want to slip off of the trail.March2hThese next two shots are with the Galaxy 4 – It sure handles these images well.March2iYou can see the trail bisecting the image below.  From where this photo was taken there was just about another mile to go to the spot where I turned around and hiked back.March2j

March2kJust before reaching the point where I would turn around, the sky starts to get a bit lighter.March2LThen it’s time for the wider image from the G4.


March2oComing into the home stretch, this image was taken from that section of the trail that was seen bisecting the image above. The south peak is well frosted.March2pGetting close to the ride home, you can see the tram in the upper left of the image.March2qOh yes, the rescue squad on the mountain. It turns out that there was a group of 5 hikers who set out at 6am to climb the La Luz trail to the summit.  I was told that they were repeatedly warned to turn back because they were not at all dressed for the conditions on the mountain.  “Scantily dressed,” was one of the terms I heard, and another said that they were hiking in tennis shoes like Keds, some without socks.

One girl, suffering from hypothermia could not walk any more and the mountain rescue squad was called to help her  get off the mountain.  I did my hike from 3-5pm and this was the last shot of mine for the day.  Granted, I only covered about a mile an hour, stopping for lots of photos.  I heard that she finally got off the mountain sometime after dark.  The TV made it out to be a “dramatic rescue,” but then you have to put drama into the story even if there is not a whole lot. March2rFolks, does this look like stuff you do in tennis shoes without socks?  And scantily dressed?

I know that when I called the tram about 1:30 in the afternoon they told me the temperature was 26 degrees at the top with a 20 mile an hour wind.  That’s 26 degrees with a wind chill of about 11 degrees.  I guarantee you, it’s not a walk in the park, but it is a walk in the wilderness.  And for that, one should be prepared.

Posted in Albuquerque and Environs, Hiking in New Mexico, LaLuz Trail, Landscapes of New Mexico, The Sandia Mountains | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

To love beauty is to see light. Victor Hugo

This is one of those times that I wish that I could easily change the background color of an individual entry because this particular series of images is best suited for a black background.

The setting – The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

The other artist, well, other than nature: Dale Chihuly

The exhibit: Chihuly in the Garden

This is our second trip to see Chihuly in the Garden, the first time was back in 2008 and until today, I’ve never gotten around to posting a single image of the exhibit.


Back in 08 we happened to see it twice, the first time by day during our Thanksgiving trip. The second time we managed a night visit when we went back at Christmastime. And this year, although we had thought to try and see both, we ended up heading on over when the zoo lights were packed to the point of absurdity.

The sign at the entrance to the gardens said SOLD OUT.  I wanted to turn around and call it a night and head up to the Hyatt and listen to some music, but my daughter and son in law had already decided to go for it in spite of the warnings.  Thankfully, there were people who had reserved tickets and called to cancel.  We were told by friends we ran into at the exhibit that they had been sold out since November. Happily, we all got in and my wife and I were treated by a guest that traveled to Phoenix with us.


Looking back at both sets of images, day and night, I’ve decided that I am going to make another attempt to visit the gardens in a couple of weeks when we go back for my granddaughter’s third birthday party.

While I love the night lights on the blown glass, there is also something to be said for those deep blue skies and the play of sunlight.


Fortunately we had been told that the exhibit was in Phoenix before we left on the trip so I threw one of my tripods into the car, but ended up using my Cannon hiking camera instead of the big Nikon and all of its lenses.  It turns out that it was cold and crowded so I was happy to have simple and fast in the realm of camera gear.

I played with the white balance but, as usual, red is very difficult for just about any camera to capture well.  I think that I could probably spend a whole lot of time learning about masks and such in Photoshop to get this image to look more like the deep reds that we saw that night, but I just don’t have the time.


That’s all I’m going to post of the contrasts between day and night.

We were told that the exhibit was not nearly as expansive as what we saw in ’08, but I was quite happy with what we saw.  Granted, some of the time we spent at the musical exhibits left us less time to wander the gardens, but the whole effect was well worth the effort.

ch7 ch8 ch9 ch10 ch11 ch12


ch13 ch14 ch15 ch16


ch17 ch18 ch19

ch1 ch2

If you get a chance to see a collection of Glass by Chihuly, go see it.  It’s worth the effort, whether by night or day.

Posted in Travels in Arizona, Urban nature | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The timelessness of multitasking – can you really?

I decided to put a few thoughts on paper tonight because I know it’s been a long long time since I’ve written, and I found something tonight that I feel is important to jot down.

It started with a book I am reading about cognition and how we think.  Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman posits that there are two systems at work in our brains, the intuitive “fast” one and the “slow” which deals with more complex thought.

I know that somewhere in the last six months or so I’ve read additional material about the “costs of multitasking” which in theory, sounds counter intuitive to what so many of us in the rapid moving society try to achieve.  As an example let’s consider the automobile and all of the tasks that people attempt to do while driving.  We talk on the phone, we check the GPS, we eat, some apply makeup, we look at maps,  we have our morning coffee, and may top it off with a fast food sandwich, congratulating ourselves about how much we are getting done.

Then you read how someone was texting “I Love You” before he ran over a buggy and killed three kids.

There is research  that says that what is really going on while we are thinking that we are multi-tasking is that we are really switching between tasks, and quite frequently between those that fall into the “fast” mode.  It also turns out that there is research that says that we can be up to 40% less efficient because of our task switching.

What I find most interesting about this concept is a quote that I found tonight while reading through translations of some first century Latin texts.  It happened to be that I was working on my quote library and was focused on a quote about friendship by Pubilius Syrus who lived in the first century BC.

This is what he wrote: Ad duo festinans neutrum bene peregeris.

This is how it was translated in 1856:  To do two things at once is to do neither.

There you have it.

In making this search I found a free copy of the Moral Sayings of Publius in Google Books, which consisted of only English translations.  I went looking for Latin version and found his sayings at  There was now only one problem, I can’t read Latin, and the Latin text provided no translation.

Next I used Google translate and put “two things” in to be translated into Latin.  Google Translate came back with “duo” as Latin for “two things”.  Next I searched the Latin text for the word duo and took the one that looked close and dumped it back into Google Translate.

GT then came back with: To the two made ​​haste, and, well, to be carried out neither of

To me, that seems close enough, especially since you can’t put the phrase back into Google and get an English translation of it.  The web has lots of variant translations of the Latin into German, or French or Russian, but no direct translations back from the Latin into English.

For the time being it looks like I’m stuck with the 1856 translation of D. Lyman.

To do two things at once is to do neither.

How curious that only now, some two thousand one hundred years later, we find out that it just might be the truth.

Posted in Quotes of interest, Web Research | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Flashing in the night

Granted, its only one photo, but after getting maybe one, possibly two photos for the entire lightning season last year, one photo is a great start. 7.3.13b

Actually, had I been set up and ready, I might have been able to capture one or two more images, because while I was setting up my tripod on the front porch I did miss a shot or two.

This particular storm approached from the north and moved to the southwest – not the usual summer pattern for New Mexico.  I couldn’t shoot this storm as it approached since the balcony on the north side of the house is totally exposed.  Wet cameras and exposed photographers in a lightning event do not make for a good combination.  As usual, I hid out under a covered balcony until the storm had passed to the west.



I have to say that I was quite happy to see the rain hitting the Sandias since they have been closed for hiking since June 11 due to the danger of fires.  But alas, the rains were scant and the mountain remains closed.  I had hoped to take the weekend and head on up to Seattle but Mrs was not really excited for that trip so I blew off the tickets, got my reward points added back to my account and planned for a trip down to the Lincoln National Forest where hopefully it will be much cooler.

Maybe the photo drought for lightning shots is over.  I don’t know, but the forecast is calling for 20% chance of rain each day for the next several days.  It will be my luck that we will be in Cloudcroft when the rains finally begin here.

As I saved these couple of images on my hard drive I noticed the folders that hold the lightning shots.  I’ve arranged them by date and have a solid record for seven full summers.  In seven years I’ve only gotten one shot of lightning in the month of June.  Granted, I’ve seen lightning in June, even this year, but it was during the day from my office window when a chance storm graced the mountain.

Prior to this shot on the third of July, the earliest that I have recorded is July 5, 2008. July, August and September have lots of dates scattered among them.  It’s time. Let the rains begin.  I don’t even care if we see lightning, as long as the rains begin.

Posted in Albuquerque and Environs, Lightning in New Mexico, New Mexico Sky | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Finally, Wildflower project phase 1 is finished.

Back in December when we were in Phoenix for the week of Christmas I began working in earnest on a project to redesign significant parts of this web site.  The core problem I was having had to do with the interface and the menus, the method of presentation rather than the content.

Then along came spring in the Sandias, and with a season of little or no snow, the hiking trails to the summit were open early without having to deal with dangers of crossing fields of snow at a 45 degree angle.

So I hiked and hiked and climbed the mountain 7 times in May, including three trips up over the Memorial Day weekend.  As usual, I took a few photos, but quite frankly, I have been taking fewer and fewer of the wildflowers as I also spent the spring populating galleries of images in preparation for a wildflower gallery launch.

cactus4This spring saw some nice additions to the cactus collection, along with an image or two that has actually added an entire gallery dealing with “biotic agents,” those pesky critters that help pollinate flowers.

alienLDuring my search to properly identify some of the flowers in my collection I ran across another site that had a separate gallery of images of Pollinators. I decided that since I’ve gotten a few good bugs in my flower photos I might as well create a gallery of them as well.

And so they are birthed, four galleries of flowers and one of bugs and flowers, all arranged and put together in a slideshow format.  I’ve sent requests to several well known flower experts in New Mexico asking for help identifying some of the flowers.  Hopefully they will be able to assist me in filling in the blanks.

Once that’s complete, I will create static galleries of the images by color so that someone can search by color or just look through the slideshow.

Sstar1The image above took close to 10 attempts over two different days in different canyons to get a show where everything was perfectly in focus.

My goal has been to accent not only the flower, but doing so when the lighting presented great framing for the image.  Hiking in narrow canyons often presents a play between light and shadow that causes a normal background to turn black when one focuses on a well lit flower.


Next I hope to upgrade the equipment so I don’t go blind trying to get the image sharp on a very small camera screen.

You can view the slideshow gallery for now.  I suspect that it may take a month or two before I get to the static images.

Posted in Flowers, Hiking in New Mexico, Wildflowers, Wildflowers of New Mexico | Leave a comment