Random Sights and Diversions

Photography Media Reviews Commentary

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Southwestern Landscapes

Painted Desert, Arizona. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Painted Desert, Arizona, 2012. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

This is the Painted Desert in Arizona, in the Southwestern US. The Painted Desert in northwestern Arizona was formed in the Triassic Period over 200 million years ago. The colors of the rock layers are due to substantial iron and manganese deposits. Overall, the Desert encompasses 7,500 square miles (almost 20,000 square kilometers). Much of this extraordinary landscape is now included within Navajo lands.

This image (shown here in a reduced resolution) is available for purchase as a fine print, framed, and ready for hanging. Numerous sizes are available with framing included. Framed photographic prints make great holiday season gifts. Contact me if you are interested.


Landscapes of he American SouthwestThe Painted Desert is one of the locations featured in Landscapes of the American Southwest, a book of mine exploring the mountains, canyons and deserts of New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The book features 85 of my photographs on 100 pages along with additional text, printed on high quality paper. Both hardcover and softcover versions are available, as are ebook and Apple iBook versions. For a limited time, if you use the code CYBER20, you can get a 20% discount.

Click through to view a preview of Landscapes of the American Southwest or to order your copies.

Note: A number of images included in Landscapes of the American Southwest are also available as framed prints. Contact me if interested.

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Painted Desert

Painted Desert. Arizona 2012. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Painted Desert. Arizona 2012. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

This image, of the Painted Desert in Arizona, is another from the “Desert Series.” The Painted Desert, much of which is in Navajo lands in northeastern Arizona, includes some of what I think of as the most beautiful landscapes in the US. This black-and-white image presents an interesting study. Of all the striking characteristics of the Painted Desert, certainly the amazing colors – in constant flux with the changing sunlight  – are among the most beautiful. Why would we give up that color for a black-and-white depiction? The answer, for me, is that we don’t really “give up” the color, rather we see it in a new way. In the black-and-white image, we see the textures of the color. The landscape looks even more like an otherworldly scene. The subtle contours of the land are more clearly revealed. Artistically, I think it looks more like a fine pencil drawing, with highly detailed features as well as shading, than a photograph. In my view, this is one of the core “purposes” of photography as art, namely to make it possible for us to see things in new and different ways. (For the color version, see the image in the Desert Series.) (Both the original color image and the subsequent black-and-white version have been subject to a fair degree of manipulation and editing.) Click the above image for larger.

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Oak Creek Canyon

I am heartbroken that Oak Creek Canyon is burning. (News here.) Oak Creek Canyon runs north-south between Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona. It’s one of my favorite places in the great southwest. I’ve visited several times and photographed in Oak Creek Canyon. Browsing through the library, here’s an older image shot in Oak Creek Canyon.

Oak Creek Canyon Above Sedona. Nikon 8700. 21 mm. ISO 100. 1/70 sec at f/3.5. Copyright Joanne Mason 2011.

Oak Creek Canyon Above Sedona. Nikon 8700. 21 mm. ISO 100. 1/70 sec at f/3.5. Copyright Joanne Mason 2011.

The walls of Oak Creek Canyon are vertical and the country is very rugged. It is so difficult to fight the fire from within the canyon that they are apparently having to let it burn until if reaches  point where they can fight it. I pray that lives and homes are not lost.

Not strictly in Oak Creek Canyon, this image shows the magnificent red rocks of the mountains above Sedona.

Red Rock Hills. Nikon 8700. ISO 100. 9mm. 1/230 sec at f/4. (c) Copyright Joanne Mason 2011.

Red Rock Hills. Nikon 8700. ISO 100. 9mm. 1/230 sec at f/4. (c) Copyright Joanne Mason 2011.

This is truly beautiful country. Here’s a current newsphoto of the same country.

Oak Creek Canyon Slide Fire Arizona May 2014

Oak Creek Canyon Slide Fire Arizona May 2014. Ross Franklin/Associated Press.

We hear a lot these days about what seems to be (along with other severe weather phenomena) the increasing number and severity of extreme brush and forest fires. This has to be the consequence of the global climate change our planet is going through (“global warming”) which is all too real. Here is a good article on the relationship between wildfires and global warming.

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About the Header … “Easy Rider”

The latest new header image on the site, above, is cut from this image, Easy Rider Highway, which was originally posted back on August 5, 2012.

Easy Rider Highway. Nikon D200. 17-55 Nikkor f/2.8 at 22mm. ISO 800. 1/500 sec at f/8. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

Easy Rider Highway. Nikon D200. 17-55 Nikkor f/2.8 at 22mm. ISO 800. 1/500 sec at f/8. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

This road traverses the Waputki National Monument in Arizona, not far from the Grand Canyon.  Wupatki Road.(Another image of the road was posted February 12, 2012.) This road and the Wupatki Ruins were locations in the great 1969 film “Easy Rider”, featuring Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, and Jack Nicholson. After picking up a hitchhiker (in the Sunset Crater Volcano Monument just to the south of Wupatki), Wyatt (Dennis Hopper) and Billy (Peter Fonda) take this road through the Wupatki reservation. The group camps for the night in the ruins of the Wupatki Pueblo. (*)

Here is an image of the Wupatki ruins, originally posted on February 12, 2012.

Wupatki Ruins 1. Nikon D200. Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8. 23 mm (Equiv 34 mm). ISO 800. 1/1000 sec at f/22. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

Wupatki Ruins 1. Nikon D200. Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8. 23 mm (Equiv 34 mm). ISO 800. 1/1000 sec at f/22. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

(Go to the 2012 post for additional images from the Wupatki ruins.)

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San Francisco Peaks – Snapseed Editing on the iPad

San Francisco Peaks, Arizona

San Francisco Peaks, Arizona. Copyright Joanne Mason

The San Francisco Peaks are the remnants of ancient (and not so ancient) volcanoes near Flagstaff Arizona and south of the Grand Canyon. They are very picturesque, especially in winter. I have posted numerous images from this region before. Recently, I’ve been working with an app on the iPad, Snapseed. I post this here as an example.

Snapseed was developed by Nik, about which I’ve spoken of very highly before (Nik here). Nik was recently bought by Google. There are now iPad, Windows, and Mac versions of Snapseed. The iPad version is free. Snapseed is an extremely efficient, slick, easy to use, and powerful photo-editing program. The iPad version makes some compromises. But the iPad provides an efficient and easy to use tool for photographers, especially in the field. So I have been playing around with it.

Here is the original image of the San Francisco Peaks.

San Francisco Peaks Original

(Click on the images for larger views.) This image was shot with the Fuji X100 and saved as a raw image. The image was then transferred to the iPad with the iPad camera connection kit and subsequently opened in Snapseed. The iPad retains the raw format and makes possible viewing of the raw image in the camera roll. Snapseed then does the raw conversion to a jpg. (Snapseed will only convert raw files if the images have been transferred with the camera connection kit.)

For the image above, and roughly in order: The image was straightened a few degrees with the Alignment tool, then cropped. Then converted to black and white. In the black and white conversion, several profiles can be applied; a “Contrast” profile was applied. In the black and white tool, brightness and contrast can be adjusted independently, and both were boosted. A red color filter was applied. Finally, a substantial degree of sharpening was done using the Details tool. The image was then exported back to the iPad film roll as a jpg.

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Landscapes of the American Southwest

I have not mentioned my book, Landscapes of the American Southwest, recently. So herewith a shameless bit of self-promotion! Landscapes of the American Southwest features some of my best images of California, Arizona, and New Mexico. The book is available in softcover, hardcover, and apple ibook format from Blurb. Here’s a preview…

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