Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Once again, I hope you can tell this isn’t Austin

with 33 comments

Orange-Brown Rock Formations on US 160 in Northern Arizona 1541

When I began showing pictures from a trip to the Texas Panhandle in April, I entitled the first post “I hope you can tell this isn’t Austin.” Now it’s not even Texas. No, I photographed these sandstone formations along US 160 in northern Arizona on September 27th, about a third of the way into a 3300-mile trip that began with an overnight stay with our friends in Lubbock and went on to include three nights in Albuquerque, two in Durango, and three apiece in Phoenix and Tucson. Of course it was the days between those nights that most interested me because then I was free to do my photographic thing—or actually things, lots of them.

When we returned to Austin on October 4th I found the place in full fall mode botanically (though not in terms of climate, because afternoon temperatures stayed stuck in the low 90s for the next seven days). I’ve already giddily (and alas allergenically and chiggerly and fire-ant-ily) charged back in to local nature photography. I’d like to post some of those central Texas pictures before they get too dated, so beginning today I’ll show perhaps a dozen trip pictures and then mix more-recent images from Austin’s autumn into the continuing selection from the Great American West. I hope you won’t get see-sick later this month from looking at photographs that bounce back and forth between the two realms, but variety is the spice (and in this blog the species) of life.

Bouncing back to the picture in today’s post, let me add that I had trouble getting the views I wanted because not only was the land fenced off, but also electric wires and poles cut across the site in several places. I zoomed and angled my way past the obstacles the best I could.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 13, 2014 at 5:20 AM

33 Responses

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  1. The world is full of electric wires these days, but you managed to get a natural, nice piece of nature. Well done.


    October 13, 2014 at 5:38 AM

    • It sounds like you’ve experienced the same problem with some of your photos, Bente. With this picture I think I knelt on the ground and aimed upward between adjacent strands of barbed wire in the fence that kept me from getting closer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2014 at 7:19 AM

  2. Belle image avec ce nuage et jolies couleurs


    October 13, 2014 at 6:13 AM

  3. Excellent zooming and angleing!


    October 13, 2014 at 6:22 AM

  4. I love the red rocks of Northern AZ. We have a James Acrey photo of “Moonrise at Cathedral Rock” from Sedona that fits in perfectly in our country house. I’m looking forward to more red rock images.


    October 13, 2014 at 6:42 AM

    • I looked up the Cathedral Rock in Sedona and I see what you mean about the red rocks. One thing I learned from this trip is that even in the same state, or even the same part of the same state, more than one geological formation has been given the same name. For example, in southwestern Colorado there are two formations known as Chimney Rock (one of which I stopped near and will be bringing you a picture of in a couple of weeks).

      I passed close to Sedona but it was late in the afternoon and there was intermittent heavy rain, so I never got to see the place. To do justice to the geology of the Southwest I’d have to spend a lot more time there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2014 at 7:36 AM

  5. The gorgeous red rock of the Southwest always inspires.


    October 13, 2014 at 7:25 AM

    • It inspired me, that’s for sure. There were many other shades of rock that also caught my fancy, some of which you’ll see here in the days ahead.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2014 at 7:37 AM

  6. I have an affinity for geology, particularly in The Southwest. (You remind me here that I’ve not gotten to my follow-up Yellowstone, Glacier, Teton post.) I will never tire of your photographic seasoning! We appear to enjoy capturing the same subject matter. Like spidey’s with boxing gloves, more please.


    October 13, 2014 at 8:48 AM

    • I’d say any kind of game is fair game for a photograph, Shannon. Most of my readers aren’t as keen on spiders as they are on other things, but I keep including an arachnid picture from time to time if I get a good one (in fact two have appeared here in the last few weeks).

      The Southwest offers so many chances for landscape photographs, with emphasis on geology, that I wish I lived closer to it. As you know, from Austin or further east in Texas you have to drive all day just to get out of the state.

      Looking forward to your Yellowstone, Glacier, and Teton pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2014 at 9:15 AM

  7. One of my goals is to hook up with Greg Russell of Alpenglow Images for a trip through the southwest….well, some of it. As I am sure your 3300 miles showed you, there is far too much to do in any one trip. Some make a lifetime of it.
    I like your image of this beautiful red sandstone rock formation…well worth the chance of a rusty scrape or zzzzzap.
    I look forward to the coming photographic tennis rally.

    Steve Gingold

    October 13, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    • Greg Russell would be a good person to hang out with in the Southwest. I see from his website that he was born in Colorado but grew up in New Mexico and considers it his home.

      Yes, even though I photographed in a bunch of places on my trip, I feel as if I hardly saw anything, given how much Scenery with a capital S there is in that region. It’s easy to see how some photographers have made a lifetime of it there.

      I’m happy to report no rusty scrapes or other mishaps while taking pictures, except for a few importune cholla cactus needles in Arizona. My trusty tweezers saved the day.

      We’ll see how the tennis match goes….

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2014 at 3:12 PM

      • I was supposed to go there and walk some of the John Muir Trail with him last year, but finances nixed that. I hope it happens some day. This new computer didn’t help things.

        Steve Gingold

        October 13, 2014 at 3:32 PM

  8. I fell in love with those red rocks in Arizona and Utah – so very different to anything we have over here. And photographed with a blue sky as a contrast – sublime!


    October 13, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    • I’ll agree that the blue worked well, and my timing was good, because the blue didn’t last. As we continued driving west the sky clouded over and got dark, and for the rest of the afternoon we endured intermittent downpours. Some were so heavy that even with the windshield wipers on high speed I had trouble seeing. Luckily the most severe episodes didn’t last too long.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2014 at 7:25 PM

  9. Yeah, allergies to chiggers and ticks keeps me from laying in the grass too much for any shot. I don’t need to scratch myself bloody for the next week. That said, you did a nice job with this! Ah, the travails of a nature photographer.

    BTW – I haven’t posted it yet, but I’m really liking the Canon 6D. The noise is greatly improved over the Rebel. I get to about 12,800 ISO before it gets too bad. The Rebel was bad at 1600 ISO. The features on both cameras are similar, but the full frame sensor and “L” lens are giving me sharper pictures. The Rebel has done great, but clearly the 6D is better.

    I miss the articulating screen, but the extra weight has not been an issue.



    October 13, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    • I wasn’t aware of any chiggers in the Southwest, so for me it was a break from itching as usual. That break soon ended when I started photographing here again.

      It’s good to hear you’re enjoying the Canon 6D and its lower amount of noise (thanks to the full-frame sensor) compared to the Rebel you previously used. An L-series lens makes a difference, too. For decades I’ve been used to peering through a real (i.e. optical) viewfinder, so an articulating screen isn’t something I’ve ever felt the lack of.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2014 at 9:02 PM

  10. Love your red-rock photo…The detail really appeals to me, especially since it is set against the really blue sky.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    October 13, 2014 at 6:45 PM

    • From seeing plenty of my pictures by now, you know that I often seek to contrast my subject with something of a different color behind it. Many times that contrasting backdrop has been and continues to be a blue sky. The one you see here soon gave way to rain clouds, but while it lasted I took advantage of it, and of the wispy clouds the graced the sky a few hours earlier in southwestern Colorado.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2014 at 9:06 PM

  11. What a road trip. Almost, but not quite, as many miles as my round trip to Cairns Australia.


    October 14, 2014 at 3:16 AM

  12. My favorite photos from my trip through the Texas panhandle involve this sort of sky and rock. In fact, to reinforce one of your points, I named one of those photos “shiprock” in my album. Of course, it wasn’t a Shiprock, only an anonymous outcropping, but it’s easy to understand how the same names were used in such widely separated locations.

    Like the sage I looked at first this morning, the contrast between the soft, ephemeral and moving clouds and the solidity of the rock really “makes” this for me. And you somehow managed, with that formation on the right, to capture the gritty texture of sandstone. I nearly can feel it.


    October 14, 2014 at 6:07 AM

    • I forgot to mention… Dr. Goodword offered up serry this morning, and I thought of your fall photos immediately. “Serried berries” came to mind.


      October 14, 2014 at 6:18 AM

      • That’s a good phrase: I’ll be on the lookout for some seriously serried berries this fall.

        Steve Schwartzman

        October 14, 2014 at 6:52 AM

    • That combination of reddish rock and blue sky strikes me as an archetype of the Southwest, with west Texas (both the Panhandle and the Trans-Pecos) being a part of the region. There’s a town called Shiprock near the northwestern corner of New Mexico that I’d originally planned to pass through, but time was short and I ended up bypassing the place—and so many others that I expect would have proved scenic. There are various places called Chimney Rock and Church (or Cathedral) Rock, but Shiprock has the added advantage of sounding almost the same as shipwreck.

      I’m glad you liked the cloud, which really made the picture for me and which I worked to record in a useful place; funny how clouds keep moving.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 14, 2014 at 6:50 AM

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