Nature Photography

A collection of 10 posts

Partly Cloudy

Sometimes enveloping the high ground, sometimes receeding into the valleys: clouds ebb and flow over the Hehuan Mountain highlands.

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Aurora

Solar forecasts indicated the aurora might be visible as far south as California. I was skeptical. Despite growing up in Alaska, I'd only seen the aurora once, and that was an half-hearted showing: just a patch of dim red sky pulsing slowly.

But it was worth a try, so I arrived on Limantour Beach at sunset and set out to the west. For two hours I walked, the ocean quiet, the crescent moon setting. Maybe the sky to the north was brighter than normal? I wasn't sure. More walking, past the pine silhouettes, almost at the exit. And there it was! Dancing slowly upwards, into the stars. The aurora was too faint for color vision, so this is a faithful depiction of my view.

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My camera had no limitations on seeing color. These are too good to keep unpublished, even if they are outside my normal editing standard (memory of perception).

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Lundy Aspen

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Chisos Mountains, Winter

“‘O where are you going?’ said reader to rider,
‘That valley is fatal when furnaces burn.
Yonder’s the midden whose odors will madden,
That gap is the grave where the tall return.’

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‘O do you imagine,’ said fearer to farer,
‘That dusk will delay on your path to the pass?
Your diligent looking discover the lacking,
Your footsteps feel from granite to grass?’

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‘O what was that bird?’ said horror to hearer,
‘Did you see that shape in the twisted trees?
Behind you swiftly the figure comes softly,
The spot on your skin is a shocking disease.’

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‘Out of this house,’ said rider to reader,
‘Yours never will,’ said farer to fearer,
‘They’re looking for you,’ said hearer to horror,
As he left them there, as he left them there.”
—W. H. Auden

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November in Muir Woods

Winter’s brush only crimps the color palette in the redwood grove.

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Blue, White, Black: Surrealism on Mauna Loa

Camping overnight at the trailhead did not sufficiently acclimate me for this hike’s altitude, so my progress is slow and patient. Much of the trail follows the hardened pahoehoe lava flows gently upwards, its surface as smooth as a paved nature walk. The lava is everywhere, and everywhere is lava. Only snow and the gasping thin sky overhead break its flows.

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Four kilometers up and the remaining winter snow, which started as occasional patches, is forming large drifts. I haven’t seen a plant or animal all day.

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At the summit crater, the mountain expands away, level in all directions. The dried surface is only as old as I am. It resembles an abandoned parking lot in a forsaken city: roughly textured, glimmering black, carelessly crumpled and folded. Underfoot it crunches like crusted snow.

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No other hikers are staying at the summit cabin. I am alone in this wasteland palace in the clouds.

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