The Missus and I recently spent a weekend in the Flagstaff area shooting some landscapes during the “Mountains and Meadows of Northern Arizona” workshop put on by Arizona Highways Photography Workshops. This particular workshop was run by Shane McDermott, a Flagstaff landscape photographer.
Government Prairie is northwest of Flagstaff, and has some very nice terrain and views. There were frequent thunderstorms in the area that weekend so in addition to some interesting clouds we were greeted by this rainbow. I’m sure everyone in the group has pretty much the same image, but I believe there’s a law requiring you to take rainbow pictures.
Looking north from a little further up that ridge line provided this scene. The tree immediately caught my attention as something you would expect to see in Japanese art. Something about the twisted branches and sparse leaves along with the texture of the rock next to it, I think. It would have been nice had there been more dramatic clouds for the background, but by the time the clouds moved in the light on the tree wasn’t very interesting so I’m sticking with this picture.
The following morning we were up early to go to the Kachina Wetlands where the sunflowers were in bloom. The photo above was looking to the west, and is fairly typical of the views to be had in the area. Below was looking north as the sun rose over the ridge and fully lit the field of flowers. Near this spot we found a nature story. A couple of animal skeletons were near a tall pine, perhaps small deer or coyotes. We were wondering why there would be two so close together when we noticed the pine had the characteristic spiral burn mark of a lighting strike running down its trunk. We’re guessing the animals were sheltering under the tree during a storm and were killed by lightning.
Our evening location was at Snowbowl, the major ski resort in the area. Even without snow the area is well used by hikers, and yes, photographers. While the area is green and lush for the most part, there is always evidence of fires, blight and weather.
I saw these two trees as I was walking down to the pond and it struck me how much it looked like the were standing guard. At the risk of being too geeky they fit the image I have for ents in “The Lord of the Rings.”
This was the pond that the sentinels presided over. Depending on what side of the pond you were on, the reflections could be of the San Francisco Peaks, prairie or sky. I kind of liked the look of the trees and clouds from this angle.
At the wood line about half a mile above the pond I set up to wait for the sunset. This couple had walked by previously to take some pictures and enjoy the scenery. Just after the sun dipped below the horizon they started back up the trail and I managed this shot. As much as I like landscapes, I think a lot of times there needs to be something from the outside to help focus. This couple did a wonderful job of it. When they saw I was taking pictures she looked like she was trying to get them out of the frame till I said, “No…no! I want you in the picture!” They just laughed.
Sunday we ended up on Hart Prairie, part of a Nature Conservancy site. We had been looking for a nice stand of Aspens, but the site that Shane had scouted out wasn’t working this particular morning. Such is photography, sometime the subject doesn’t cooperate. As it was, the homesteads at Hart Prairie really drew my attention. These are real homestead log cabins, probably originally chinked with mud and leaves. These days they’re sealed up a little better, although I understand they’re still pretty drafty in the wintertime.
Wandering around the site is an education, since the first though is how idyllic it appears, and on a nice summer morning it mostly is. Still, there was a lot of work involved in surviving in the high country. This is an isolated area today, and must have been really cut off during winter a century ago.