Tag: desert

Navajo Highway

This image is from Arizona along the road out of Flagstaf heading east. I was taken by the alien looking landscape and decided to stop and shoot a few frames before heading east. I climbed up on one of the mounds of clay to get a better composition and to get a sense of the place.

This image is almost straight from the camera. I used a polarizer to cut down on reflected glare. The composition uses the rule of thirds as well as letting the highway become a leading line. All processing for this photo was done in Aperture 3.

Great Basin Vista

Today’s image is once again from the Great Basin along US 50. In this image I was trying to capture the vastness of the Great Basin as well as the clouds that had been gathering all day. As I rode along US 50 this particular day I was treated to seeing a thunderstorm develop. During the day I watched as a large mass of clouds in the southern sky coalesced  into a thunderstorm. As the day went on I noticed how every cloud in the sky moved over to become part of the storm. It was fascinating to see that even small clouds that were miles away from the main body would quickly move toward the growing mass until by the end of the day the entire sky had become part of the storm.

Compositionally I used the large boulder in the foreground as a way to bring the viewer into the scene. The triangles formed by the foreground element and the sloping terrain on the left side help to direct the viewer’s eyes down the highway and into the Great Basin while the clouds themselves frame the distant horizon. I used Topaz Adjust to process this image before applying some final tweaks in Aperture 3.

Using Diagonal Lines as Compositional Elements

This is another photo incorporating the highway as a major compositional element. I can’t recall where I took this photo but I really like the way the highway sweeps across the frame from right to left forming several triangles that converge at the horizon. Even the clouds are forming triangular patterns and reinforcing the diagonal slopes of the distant mountains.

It is also pretty obvious that this photo was taken at midday yet it still has enough contrast and detail to remain interesting. I processed this image with Topaz Adjust before final sharpening was done in Aperture 3.

A Storm Was Brewing on the Horizon

When the destination for my ride requires me to be on a tight schedule the Interstate Highway System is my only choice. While I prefer to use the older US Highway system to travel across the country, the pace is different and I don’t mind slowing down as I pass through small towns, I sometimes need to cover a lot of distance in a day.

I often hear from people that the Interstate Highways are boring roads but I don’t always find them that boring. For one thing these highways often pass through beautiful country and since the right of way is so wide there are sections where the only sign of man’s hand is the highway itself.

This is a photo of one such stretch of interstate. I don’t recall where I was when I took this photo but I do remember vividly how quickly the rain moved in my direction! I saw this storm on the horizon and pulled to the side of the road to put on my rain gear. Before donning my rain gear I grabbed my camera from my saddlebag and took a few shots of the approaching rain storm. I love seeing the rain falling as a storm moves in the distance and the way the rain makes patterns uniting the clouds and the earth. In a matter of minutes the storm was on top of me and I stashed my camera back in the saddlebag.

I grabbed my rain gear and was just getting it unrolled when the wind and rain were upon me; the wind was blowing full force and the rain drops were as big as grapes. I was standing there in the middle of nowhere trying to put on my rain jacket as the wind was doing it’s best to tun it into a sail! I had only managed to get one arm in the jacket when the storm got to me. As I stood there in the pouring rain, battling the wind and trying to get the rain pants and jacket fastened I was drenched with rain. Once I finished I was almost as wet as I would have been had I simply left the rain gear in the saddlebag.

I climbed back on the bike and headed into the storm fully expecting to ride the rest of the afternoon in rain but less that five miles down the road the storm was gone and the sky was clear again. I was still wet and cold but I had another great experience to remember and savor for years to come. These types of things are among the reasons I love motorcycling and exploring America by motorcycle; if I had been in a car that afternoon I wouldn’t have tasted and felt the the forces of nature that form our world.

As for the composition, once again the highway leads the viewer’s eye into the scene, dominates the foreground and reinforces the rule of thirds as it moves into the frame.  The colors and textures of the clouds add interest to the upper part of the image while the horizon gives a sense of depth. I used Topaz Adjust on this image which accounts for the enhanced contrast of the road surface and the saturation of the colors.


My Former Travelling Studio

I love to use my motorcycle to travel and take me to the sites I like to photograph. There is nothing like being able to sit there and see all around you the grandeur of the west as the smells and sounds of the road caress your senses.

This is a shot of my 2003 Road Glide I named Devilhog. I gave it that name because it was assembled on April 1, 2003 and had a VIN number that ended in 666. I rode this bike over 90,000 miles until I had a rear tire blow out on I-80 just east of Bonneville at the east bound 26.5 mile marker. I was cruising along at 80 miles an hour when suddenly the bike started shaking violently. I fisrt thought it was a tank slapper coming on but then I realized it was a blown rear tire. I had just passed a string of vehicles and was slightly ahead of an 18 wheeler when it went down on it’s right side. Fortunately for me the engine and saddlebag guards kept me from being caught under the bike and we both slid down the highway separately.

I was wearing my leather jacket and full face helmet which I’m certain saved my life. The helmet was scraping along on the face shield as I was sliding on my right side. I remember thinking this isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be; then I started thinking “damn I’m broken down on the interstate with a flat tire”. LOL … Little did I know that my bike was destroyed and I was lucky to be alive. I sprained my left wrist and had a small cut on the back of my right hand where my glove had ripped but otherwise I was OK. Some wonderful ladies who were ahead of me and saw the crash in their mirrors came back and helped me gather all my gear from the highway. They stayed with me until the EMTs and Police were on the scene and I was in safe hands.

I was amazed to find that all my stuff was intact, though my luggage was pretty tattered, and my camera, lens and laptop were unharmed. I’ve since replaced the Devilhog with a 2007 Road Glide and switched from Michellin brand tires to Metzlers. Michellin discontinued the series of tires for Harleys I was using and I suspect it was because they were not safe to ride on. I didn’t have the presence of mind to get the rear tire back so that I could find out why it blew so I probably passed up a chance to be compensated for my loss. My consolation is that I walked away from what could have been a catastrophic event because I chose to ride wearing the proper safety gear and because luck was with me that day.

This photo was taken the year before my crash; in Canyonlands National Park. I processed it using Aperture 3 and Topaz Adjust Spicify preset. Compositionally I like the way the bike’s position accentuates the perspective in the scene as the road itself leads your eye from the foreground to the horizon and the amazing rock formations of Canyonlands.