Cactus

purple and green cactus

Cactus

The unusual beauty of cactus always surprises me.  This cactus was especially colorful, and helped to remind me that interest and beauty can be found even in what appears to be ordinary and unexciting.  The constant challenge comes in allowing myself to see it.

Desert Moonrise

moonrise in the desert

Desert Moonrise

This gorgeous scene was one we came upon while exploring beautiful Arches National Park a few years ago.  The colors of the desert are so rich and rewarding at certain times of the day.  I love the reds and oranges in the rocks in this shot, and the rising moon just made it a “must shoot” situation.  I am so grateful to have traveled to so many stunning places across the beautiful United States.

The Painted Desert

Painted Desert in Arizona

The Painted Desert

A visit to The Painted Desert, in Arizona, this summer, treated us to the strange and beautiful colors of the hot, dry sand.  The various layers of color in the canvas here reveal millions of years of work by Mother Nature.  It’s an interesting, albeit desolate, place to visit.  We happened to travel through in the heat of the day – not the best time for making nice photographs.  This park is another one of those places that changes dramatically depending on the time of day and conditions.  An unexpected highlight for us was meeting a young woman who was working in the park.  She was kind and knowledgeable, and gave us some personal insight into this fascinating desert.  I’m so grateful that there are people like her (and her husband) who find it important to love and share our nation’s natural treasures.

Milky Way

nightime milky way in the southwest

Milky Way

So, honestly, I feel less than thrilled to post this particular image.  It was made while in the Four Corners area on the mission trip, and does, indeed, illustrate why those of us on this trip love to sit out under the stars every night, no matter how tired.  It is, however, my very first attempt to capture the milky way in an image.  I was using my brand new wide angle lens.  At an ISO of 1600, a wide open aperture, and a 20 second shutter speed, I positioned my camera on a pile of large rocks, aimed it toward the sky, and fired away using my auto release cord.  I was really only moderately pleased with my results.  While I did record some “close” images, nothing really took my breath away.  Because I was shooting in the dark, and not able to truly review my images (other than in the viewfinder, where they all looked amazing), I found it hard to tweak the settings to improve the results.  So, while I am not thrilled with the sharpness of the image among other things, there are a few things I do like about it.  I was pleased with the silhouetting of the landscape in the foreground and the luck I had in capturing the satellite in the upper left hand corner.  It was also quite a trill to see how beautifully the milky way showed itself in the image – even better than to the naked eye.  All in all, I felt like this was a decent first attempt at capturing a pleasing image of our galaxy from one of my favorite places on earth.  It only makes me look forward to further attempts in my future!

Loo With a View

mens and womens outhouses in the desert southwest

Loo With a View

These outhouses, in the desert Southwest, are on the site of one of our mission locations.  They are strictly “back to basics” and no frills!  The first several years we worked at this location, there weren’t even doors on either of them.  You can’t deny the wide open, serene view they offered, though.  Of course, the occasional herd of sheep or cattle that roamed by only added to the ambiance.

Anticipation

gate in the desert southwest

Anticipation

We’re down to 27 days to go until this year’s mission trip to the beautiful Southwest.  It is with eager anticipation that I wonder what blessings are in store for us this year.  The big expanse of blue, open sky is  only one of the sights that I am looking forward to seeing again.  The children and adults who we are fortunate enough to interact with, and who live in this beautiful landscape, are also on my list!  Looking forward to being filled…

Driven

old junkyard truck

Driven

This old steering wheel was shot in a fairly large junkyard at White Rock Point, Utah.  For an untold number of years, it has been enduring this sunny, hot, dry environment on a daily basis.  The age and wear it shows cause me to wonder about its history and what stories it could tell.  The hard severity of these junkyard inhabitants occupying such beautiful land strikes the eye as harsh.  Very intriguing for someone who likes to shoot photographs!