Sunsets and Landscapes

Driving Across Colorado

On June 7th my sister and I drove across Colorado with the goal of visiting Dinosaur National Monument the next day.   We started our morning in Canyon City and visited the Royal Gorge first thing in the morning and then proceeded to drive across Colorado on our epic road trip 2017.  Eventually I'll post road trips from 2014-16!   

Arkansas River in Colorado -1

I stopped to take a few shots of the Arkansas River which was flowing into the Royal Gorge.   We were traveling from the Royal Gorge to Salida on the first leg of our journey to Grand Junction.  

Driving Across Colorado -1

We were heading towards Monarch Pass...

Monarch Pass -1

Snow covered mountains; I think so!

Monarch Pass -1-2

Driving across the country in our tiny car... 

Monarch Pass -1-3

So we continued...  

Colorado Landscape -1

This is the area between Gunnison and Montrose, we didn't go through Montrose though, we continued north to Hotchkiss.   This is Curecanti National Recreation Area which is AMAZING.  

Colorado Landscape -1-3

This area is the Dillon Pinnacles.  

Colorado Landscape -1-2

Just beautiful.   

Black Canyon of the Gunnison -1

So I believe this is part of The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, but it is also Curecanti National Recreation Area. 

Black Canyon of the Gunnison -1-2

Incredibly beautiful, I had to stop multiple times to take photos!

Black Canyon of the Gunnison -1-3

I believe I've been so far behind with posting images I didn't know where to start.  Maybe I can begin to work on this blog again.   

Black Canyon of the Gunnison -1-5

I really want to go back ! 

Pioneer Point Curecanti National Recreation Area Colorado -1

But we continued on... 

Monarch Pass -1-4

The scenic route was worth the time! 

Black Canyon of the Gunnison -1-4


Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in New Mexico

It is finally time to start working on photography again.   I've been a terrible blogger for the last couple of years and I have so much content to post.  Some of this is because I've had not-so-wonderful internet service.  

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument New Mexico-1

A little bit about the Tent Rocks from the National Monument website

The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is a remarkable outdoor laboratory, offering an opportunity to observe, study, and experience the geologic processes that shape natural landscapes. The National Monument, on the Pajarito Plateau in north-central New Mexico, includes a national recreation trail and ranges from 5,570 feet to 6,760 feet above sea level. It is for foot travel only, and contains two segments that provide opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, geologic observation, and plant identification.

The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago and left pumice, ash, and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick. Tremendous explosions from the Jemez volcanic field spewed pyroclasts (rock fragments), while searing hot gases blasted down slopes in an incandescent avalanche called a “pyroclastic flow.”

Precariously perched on many of the tapering hoodoos are boulder caps that protect the softer pumice and tuff below. Some tents have lost their hard, resistant caprocks, and are disintegrating. While fairly uniform in shape, the tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet up to 90 feet.

Georgia O'Keeffe -Ghost Ranch-1-8

It was worth the drive.  The first hike was around the tent rocks, which apparently are also called "hoodoos" in geology.  

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument New Mexico-1-3

A relatively short drive from Albuquerque or Santa Fe, it is worth hiking the slot canyon, which is pretty amazing.  

Tent Rocks - -1

This was one of my last May outings.  I didn't know about this place until my brother mentioned that he'd like to visit last fall and I've intended to drive up and see this place.   A national park is usually always worth your time.  

Tent Rocks - -1-2

This was a day trip that was definitely worth it.  

Tent Rocks -1

I really enjoyed walking through the trail that led through the slot canyon. 

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument New Mexico-1-5

I still take photographs like I used to. I still shoot fairly often, but perhaps not with the intensity or dedication that I did a few years back.  I need to spend time working on this page and my other pages and get back to where I enjoy the hobby of photography like I used to.  I'm sure calling it a "hobby" would set the passionate, absorbed, serious photographers in a furious rage.   It's just that it is my hobby.  

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument New Mexico-1-6

It was a great day.  

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument New Mexico-1-7

Take the time to go see your world, even if you don't stray too far from home. 

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument New Mexico-1-8

Tent Rocks National Monument is worth  your time if you're visiting New Mexico. 

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument New Mexico-1-9


El Morro

El Morro -New Mexico -1

Just down the road from my new home is El Morro National Monument .  My last visit was in 2010 when I went to a workshop at Crow Canyon sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. 


El Morro -New Mexico-1-6

This natural pool provided the run off water so people could stop and rest on their travels and have a drink...and autograph the rock.  

El Morro -New Mexico-1-5

So, natural resources are important.  Water is extremely important in the American west, which made this a great place to stop and have a drink before getting back on the trail.  

El Morro -New Mexico Petroglyphs -1-2

Of course it was an inscription rock long before the colonists arrived.   The Ancestral Pueblo people were busy inscribing on this rock. 

El Morro -New Mexico Petroglyphs -1

Telling their stories in stone a thousand years ago.  

El Morro -New Mexico-1-7

I love the petroglyphs.  

El Morro -New Mexico-1-3

If you take the half mile hike to the top of El Morro you can arrive at the ancient village of the Shiwi people.  Atsinna.  

El Morro -New Mexico-1-4

El Morro -New Mexico-1-2

The Kiva is the church of the pueblo people.  A house of prayer.   

El Morro -New Mexico -1-2

I've hiked El Morro every week since I've been in New Mexico.  This Saturday was particularly pretty.  

El Morro -New Mexico -1-3

Of all the things I missed about New Mexico, I missed the sky the most.  I am in love with the sky on these days where the clouds dot the dark azure sky.   

El Morro -New Mexico -1-4

The passed through here in 1709, the year the little ice age struck Europe.  

El Morro -New Mexico -1-5

They came in the 19th century and wrote their names besides the ancient ones, beside the Spaniards and marked their journeys west.  

El Morro -New Mexico -1-6

The oldest inscription from Onate, is dated prior to the Mayflower.   This history in North America that we often miss in our history books,   we forget about the Spanish and the French in North America.   We need to remember they were here too.   

El Morro -New Mexico -1-7

I like the hike up El Morro, the views are spectacular.   

El Morro -New Mexico -1-8

It was a beautiful day. 

El Morro -New Mexico -1-9

There is the volcano that I can see from my back yard.  This landscape is amazing.   

El Morro -New Mexico -1-10

and you can look down on the other side of the mesa.  

El Morro -New Mexico -1-11

You can look out and see Highway 53 and in an hour you can be in Arizona.   

El Morro -New Mexico -1-12

These stairs carved in the rock to make your hike easier.   

El Morro -New Mexico -1-13

Highway 53 and El Morro is kind of out of the way but it is well worth your time if you are in the area.  

New Mexico  El Morro-1-2

Inscription Rock, a little place in western New Mexico that documents centuries of travelers who were seeking a new life, or were just continuing to live their lives out on the Colorado Plateau.    





Trade Offs

So one of the subjects I teach is Economics.   One topic of economics is "trade-offs"  whenever you choose one thing over another it is a trade-off.   Just like having a full time job, family and long commute, that is a trade-off that I make five days a week.   So because I'm writing about my trade-offs right here let me tell you what I did this weekend.  Part of my schedule is driving my daughter to work and picking her up which is two hours a day all weekend.   That, of course is worthwhile because she is working full time and building a work ethic.  

Justin's Birthday-1

Oh yeah Saturday my "Baby Boy" turned 15.  Boy time flies my first blog post for him was when he was ten and a photo of him driving the tractor that I posted in 2011 has kind of went wild online.   

Justin's Birthday-1-2

So we have a 15 year old.   I can't believe it.   My oldest is visiting my alma-mater today and looking at college for her future and my oldest son will be 18 soon.   

Justin's Birthday-1-3

After we had cake I drove to Sulphur to check out some of the hiking trails at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.   I just get restless and need to get out and do something.   This was about the closest place and I had wanted to check out the hiking we usually go in the middle of summer and go swimming.  

February 20th Cows -1-4

I'm slowly getting back on track with exercise, but it seems like things come up to mess up my schedule it's frustrating.  I will never be great at dieting but I can exercise.  

February 20th Cows -1-5

I'm continually stressed this year. But it is good to get outside.  

Chickasaw National Recreation Area February 20 2016-1

Besides swimming at the falls there are lots of great trails here.  I find something new every time I visit. 

Chickasaw National Recreation Area February 20 2016-1-2

So no housework was caught up on this weekend. I traded that time for a chance to go to the park.  

Chickasaw National Recreation Area February 20 2016-1-4

A quick hike to a spectacular view. 

Chickasaw National Recreation Area February 20 2016-1-3

Definitely worth the time for  a short hike.  

Chickasaw National Recreation Area February 20 2016-1-5

But I can't forget the creek. 

February 20th Cows -1-4

Or the bridge...

February 20th Cows -1-3

On the way home.. I've passed this a million times always vowing to stop someday. I finally did. No some of these aren't the greatest shots... but that's okay.  

February 20th Cows -1

I hate seeing the turbines, but they did add a little extra to this shot.  

February 20th Cows -1-2

I finally made it home by the time the sun was was a beautiful sunset.   Now I have to go to bed because I have a long day tomorrow.   

Sunday Night

I hate Sunday nights.  I know I have to begin the drudgery of another week.  A fifty mile drive and then work and all before 7:25.   Today I kept looking at the outdoor temperature and looking at the bright blue skies and decided to go ahead and go out for a walk.   My furry friends didn't all get to go with me today because on New Years Eve they decided to get skunked. 

Walk January 10th -1

Now Jack dog was with me and he barely would let me get the shot I wanted because he was constantly blocking my camera. 

Walk January 10th -1-6

I didn't do a New Years Post, last weekend my friend and I went to see Rob Thomas at Winstar Casino, we had a great time.  

Walk January 10th -1-5

So I noticed this at the base of the tree, it is actually a part of the tree now. I don't know what it is, but it has been there a very long time. I don't edit a lot of photos black and white anymore because I kind of feel like if you can't get it right in color why bother with black and white.  But sometimes the image just "feels" black and white. 

Walk January 10th -1-4

Here is a shot of the tree in color. 

Walk January 10th -1-9

So nothing exciting, photographing the same old things.  It is still good to get outside in the cold.   

Walk January 10th -1-7

I have an incredible amount of topics that I'm interested in right now but I do not have the time to write about them.  I've discovered how much I enjoy reading on my kindle app on my phone,  which means I keep reading books.   My reading list is a lot of food histories and economic history.  But I am reading some classic political philosophy.  I know, I'm super exciting right now, but it enhances my teaching.  

Walk January 10th -1-2

I have some serious philosophical issues with the education system.   We teach in a system where the focus is pedagogy and technology over content.   Procedures and rules are important but I am still a firm believer that content is everything when teaching a discipline.  It is my job to make the content more interesting, to diverge from these boring text books.  Yes, I said boring because texts seem to find a way to kill interest in a subject.   How can we force kids to sit still at desks for hours on end and still engage them?   

Walk January 10th -1-10

I tried to blind myself by staring into the sun.   

Walk January 10th -1-2


This is my new favorite spot to catch winter sunsets.  

Walk January 10th -1-11

By the time I sit down to write I don't have much to say.  I probably could work on becoming a better writer on here.  I certainly need to update posts from my trip last summer but that is usually something I do mid-winter.  

Walk January 10th -1-8

Sunday evenings go so fast...  

Walk January 10th -1-13

Sundays go too fast and I never finish what I need to do. Never enough time in the day.  

Walk January 10th -1-14

And that's enough from me tonight. 

The Sun, The Moon, The Stars...

I will never be caught up with work.  I have to accept it and get over it.   It is the nature of the job.  


Yesterday was the first day I've felt "good" since September 8th so what did I do?  I stayed out until almost Midnight with the moon and the stars....  

I have spent the last year and a half thinking I will be caught up on my portrait photography work too, which is usually a brief respite in between booking.   Now, I have a clear date where I am not booked, and it's a nice feeling. I realized that September and October would be insane for me, I didn't realize that I would also spend three weeks of September sick. 

Eclipse and Milky Way-1-4

My neglected blog, here is the blood/super moon...eclipse, I get on my high horse when I see people fawning over the moon when really the universe is quite amazing if you take the time to look away from your screens and be aware of it, without Facebook telling you to. 


Like a good American, I took a selfie with the eclipse... 

Eclipse and Milky Way-1-2

While you were watching this....  did you see....

Eclipse and Milky Way-1

This...  it was out there, next to the eclipse.  By the way, I think it's awesome people have photography skills but can we stop being in awe of composites? 

Sunset -1-3

This evening I had a portrait session so I snapped a few shots of the sunset before I went home.  Between driving and work I haven't had a lot of time for anything lately. 

Sunset -1

It's 11 and I made it home by 8 this evening from my shoot.  An hour of rest and then to load images.  

Sunset -1-4

And I'm too tired to do anything else, so hopefully I will get some work completed tomorrow.  I can barely keep my eyes open.  


Related articles

Nature In The Digital Age

Summer -7244

How do we as a society slow down?   How can people find peace when the only nature they experience is a photo on a computer screen? I'm trying to leave my camera behind when I walk (for the most part) because I don't 'need' it. I know the landscapes I explore. I know when the sunset happens, I don't always need a photograph of it, because it happens every single night.   I don't need to share landscapes as much.  When I take my camera out (I had already walked/jogged four miles by the time took the camera out for the last mile).  I'm taking the camera out to work on technical skills, not to document the experience.  

Sun and flower-7215

couldn't get my focus right in this photo, even with manual settings the sun is all the camera wanted to see as I made the juxtaposition.   

When I'm out walking I'm filled with brilliance and have a million things that I think I could write about or say when I'm home writing on my blog.   Then I get home and load my photos and start editing and I lose all my words.  I can't remember what I wanted to say, I have vague memories of my sparks of genius.  

Oklahoma -7209
 I took about 60 photos, lighting sucked.   It was almost dark, really no inspiration at all.  These photos, aren't very good.  


I don't show you "reality" but I like my photos to be as "real" as possible.   So I do not use a lot of filters (copouts) and I don't do a lot of photos in black and white.  I pretty much think anything that I shot before last summer is total crap.  I know I'm far harder on myself than other people in regards to photography.   But it's good to want to be excellent.   


Six years ago I didn't know about focus. I knew I had a $600 camera (which was expensive to me then).  Six years ago I knew how to shoot in program mode and people were telling my photos were "good" and I had "talent"- my photos weren't very good at all and I really didn't have that much "talent" -  six years later I'm equipped with great glass and knowledge.  The knowledge is worth far more than those talentless shots of the fall of 2009, and the beginning this blog five years ago.  Skill has to be nurtured, talent has to be identified and found, yet I still think we spend so much time on remediating kids that we miss so much talent.  Why can't we focus on natural skills over remediating them for their weaknesses.   Our education system is a weakness based system.  Our resources are spent in remediation instead of excellence.   

Watermelon -7261

So I'm a history teacher again.  It is kind of hard to get back into identifying with all things education since I left in 2010.  I'm glad that I am more than a career.   But I have to start exercising again to deal with stress, today I went well over five miles and by the time we were almost finished walking I was hungry and my phone was dead.  So we went back to the field and I found a melon and broke it.  

Watermelon -7263

This week I spent a lot of time discussing the Paleolithic versus the Neolithic and the importance of agriculture.  So, in honor of those discussions I gathered.   I was also hypoglycemic with a dead phone and a half a mile from the house.  

Watermelon -7265

So I ripped the heart out with my bare hands and I ate watermelon as I walked back to the house.  I killed my phone listening to The Great Unknown and my Mom and Sister came to look for me, and found me walking out of the field with two handfuls of melon and I had to explain the death of my phone and how my dogs needed to go swimming.   

So if the only nature you get is looking at photos on a computer screen, you're missing out on a lot of life.   If the only learning you do is reading blogs and blurbs; go read a book.  If the only music you love is on the radio; go to a concert.   Go Live Your Own Story.   *And maybe start to write it because it's something that only you can do.  

Cutting Hay (Insert Photography Rant Here)

I went over to capture some images of my brother cutting Sudex last night.  I had a busy weekend complete with a wedding (work) and a birthday party for small children (friends and family).   I spent the weekend working on edits and staying indoors out of the miserable heat.  But given the opportunity to go to the farm and go shooting I'll almost always choose that as a preferred activity.  

Steve Cutting Hay on the Farm -1

Photographers are obsessive about images.  We are our own worst enemies, we are our harshest critics, we are destructive to one another.   We chase after gear as the solution to our own imperfections.  We are competitive with one another, we snub one another and then proceed to pay the "good photographers" to teach us secrets.  We chase after forums, and workshops, gear, and ultimately knowledge.  It is a strange world.  

Steve Cutting Hay on the Farm -1-2


This is my brother Steve out working on this hot, miserable day.  

I have a few photographer friends who I'm very comfortable with.  We banter on Facebook messaging and are very open about our techniques and how and what we shoot with and why.  We are not out to steal each others' business or clientele (and seriously?  I'm tired of not having weekends if you want my business, boy have at it).   Tonight I learned about "clean processing,"  or cleaning up a shot.  Which I guess is more or less my style.  I do like the crushed black look but that's a personal preference for richness of color.   

Steve Cutting Hay on the Farm -1-3

If you notice throughout this post my greens vary.  My friend and I are having serious discussions about greens in photography-  how to get dark, rich greens as opposed to neon greens.  We all know that newbie photographer whose neon greens will make you go blind and their super blue sky is so unreal you know they just must be drinking a bottle of wine when they slide the saturation slider all the way to the right.   But there is a fine balance between accepting nature as it is and making it our idealized version in photography.   A perfect photo for me five years ago is  totally different than one now.   

Steve Cutting Hay on the Farm -1-4

I made it out just in time for golden hour (my preferred shooting time).  Would I be too much of a diva to refuse to continue to shoot indoor events?  Probably.  I have plenty of weddings on the books this fall - which means this fall will be exhausting.   But, the more I do this I realize that when you're just starting you really aren't "taking business away from someone else" - in fact I don't think most people "see" the way experienced photographers do.   Steve Cutting Hay on the Farm -1-5

I also realize that some people are natural business people.  I'm really a terrible business person for doing something I love.  Why do I care if someone shares my image?  I don't.  I don't often look for people who violate my copyright.  Why? It's the freaking internet. You heard me. It's the internet. I do image searches often, I rip memes from google image search when I want to make a sarcastic reply to someone.  I find humor online.  I avoid too much sentimentality.  But, I do not get upset over people using the web to share information.  I also am very aware that when I take photo of someone that they feel ownership of that photo, no matter how I feel.  If you see a photo of yourself do you not feel that photo belongs to you because it IS you?   Exactly. Put yourself in your clients shoes.    Cutting Hay -2302

I do not edit using any crap some so called awesome photographer sells me off the web. I don't edit using presets for the most part. If I can't adjust the photo or save a composition really nothing can save it.  

Cutting Hay -2318


I also don't understand people who invest in portrait studios and props and all of that business building nonsense before they invest in the equipment. I guess those are the people who think photography is simple.   It is not.  Photography is deceptively simple.  Any of us can get a good shot at any given time with our cell phone camera (which is way better than my first digital camera that I had in 2001).   

Cutting Hay -2446

I shoot. I shoot A LOT; not daily but generally every other day.  I don't have to be paid to go shooting. I am not begging for portraiture work now, because I want to go back to what I love about photography, the solitude.   I go find my own opportunity. I find my own things to shoot, the exploring aspect of photography is just as much fun as shooting.  I love shooting the obscure, the monotonous, my boring life. 

Cutting Hay -2466

I don't get landscape photographers obsession with sharpness as much as I don't totally buy the obsession with bokeh.   Bokeh for a great portrait, because when we watch television we are sold on our solitary subject or actor who gains the sole attention of the camera.  But the HDR super sharp landscapes don't show the softness of the land.   I guess I fall into the impressionist school of thought on landscape photography.  I love the colors and the softness of the land.  

Cutting Hay -2421

I still love a nice sunset, but I am not in a competition with myself to capture the "best" sunset photo anymore.  I am challenged by the darkness and feel like I have a lot of room to work within the night.   

Cutting Hay -2474

It is still enjoyable, it's a release and it is how I enjoy spending my spare time.   My unstructured, spontaneous spare time.  



When You Wish...

Upon a star, or other nonsense that those wonderful Disney Movies taught us... (also, I'm a dreamer and absolutely loved the new Cinderella movie).   So, here you go, some star images from a few weeks ago I hope you like them.  

Stars April 2015-1-7

Insert motivational quote...  

Stars April 2015-1-6

or something profound about the universe.  

Stars April 2015-1-5


Stars April 2015-1-3


Stars and clouds -9553


Stars and clouds -9632

This is where I sprained my ankle, it takes some courage to walk in the dark where I got hurt, but I did.   

A Spring Day and Night

Daddy Farming March 24 2015-8331

Took the dogs on a walk and went out to the back pasture and my Dad was busy plowing. 

Daddy Farming March 24 2015-8336

My Dad was born in 1937.  He's still out working every day.  He's always doing something.  My Mom also works every day.  I have amazing parents.  

Daddy Farming March 24 2015-8354

I got there in time for break time.  The dogs and I walked our half a mile back to the house.  But I went back at 11pm to get some of the photos below. 


What an amazing world we live in...  

Spring Blossoms and the Stars-8373

So, I'm wondering how this would work with the macro lens.  I may have to go back and try it.  But it was dark and I wasn't one foot from my car like I normally am and I was pretty creeped out as it is and afraid I'd run into Mr. Skunk.  

Spring blossoms at night March 24-2

I didn't stay out long - I'd like to try this again but since a hail storm just passed I'm not sure if I will have blossoms left, we will see tomorrow. 

Spring blossoms at night March 24-8370'

I didn't stay long -  but here are a few more..

Spring blossoms at night March 24-8376

  Just had to get a few shots, it was too nice and too still. 

Spring Blossoms and the Stars-8373

Today's weather was not.  We had our first spring storm.   March in Oklahoma comes in like a lion and often goes out like a lion.  

Spring Blossoms and the Stars-8394

I thought I'd take a selfie since I was under the stars last night...