09/1/17
monsoon rains

Monsoon Rain and Roses

Monsoon Rain and Roses

Monsoon rain and roses have been outstanding this year!

Monsoon Rain

In July, I showed the first real rain at my house of the 2017 monsoon season. It was unusual, dropping 2.5 inches of rain in 40 minutes. Overall, I’ve gotten almost 7 inches of rain this monsoon season. The transformational power of rain in the desert is remarkable.

July 17, 2017:

monsoon rain

Monsoon Rain and Pond

August 21, 2017:

monsoon rain

Back Yard, A Month Later

Roses

The roses have responded in like manner.

The hybrid tea ‘Gemini’ has put out many sprays, which will appear at a later time. The one-to-a-stem blooms have had the perfect form for which this particular rose is known. This image is from the other night, after a brief monsoon shower. The new ARS guidelines that will be coming out later this month strongly suggest avoiding images with water droplets on the petals. I agree with avoiding such images if the light is wrong and the droplets light up as blank, a real distraction. But raindrops on roses after a gentle life-giving rain in the desert? I will photograph and show such images, happily. ‘Gemini’ is one of my favorite hybrid tea roses to grow in Albuquerque. “Raindrops on roses…” The stucco of my house, against which most of my hybrid teas grow, is the background.

monsoon rain and roses

Raindrops on Roses – ‘Gemini’

Another of my favorite hybrid tea roses in the desert is ‘Veterans’ Honor.’ It has also responded to the monsoon rains. While I frequently get sprays on ‘Gemini,’ most ‘Veterans’ Honor’ blooms for me are one-to-a-stem. However, it produced a spray this year. This is not any kind of classic spray form by any stretch of the imagination. Nevertheless, I kind of like the almost ‘golden spiral’ effect of this spray, the always-gorgeous color, and healthy foliage seen here.

monsoon rain and roses

Spray of Hybrid Tea Rose, ‘Veterans’ Honor’

Although Albuquerque will see some additional rain this year, the monsoon season is rapidly drawing to a close. From my perspective, as well as that of my yard and flowers, this has been a great – and much needed – monsoon year!

08/19/17
sunrise/sunset

Sunrise/Sunset

Sunrise/Sunset

Sunrise/Sunset: how cliche are such images considered by many who have never seen the fiery skies of the Desert Southwest? Oh, but how much the skies speak to those who know and love them. While it is true the depth of beauty will never been seen in a photograph, sometimes the beauty is so overwhelming that just a hint is satisfying. I quote again D. H. Lawrence’s written description of sunrise in New Mexico:

I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have ever had. It certainly changed me forever. . . . the moment I saw the brilliant, proud morning shine high up over the deserts of Santa Fe, something stood still in my soul, and I started to attend. . . . In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly and the old world gave way to a new.
There are all kinds of beauty in the world, thank God, though ugliness is homogeneous. . . . But for a greatness of beauty I have never experienced anything like New Mexico.

Many of my photographer friends remember the magnificence of the skies of the 2009 monsoon season. Sometimes I wondered if I would ever see a prolonged season quite like that one again. Yesterday was almost like a whole season rolled into one.

Sunrise

Back Yard Sunrise 6:17-6:22am

I start each day looking out to assess the potential for a sunrise I would like to photograph. If any clouds at all are above the Sandia Mountains, I make sure my camera is by the door and with the appropriate lens. On this particular day, I did not expect much. However, I have learned over the years that you never know. When it was barely light I went out to water flowers in containers. And then, I saw the pink begin to show. Do I know I really need to use a tripod? Yes, of course. But that is another story. I grabbed my camera, which was in easy reach, and photographed this sunrise as seen from my back yard in the middle of Albuquerque. The first gif loops three times, for those who do not like constant movement on a blog. The second gif loops continuously, for those who like to watch a little more. This was a fairly long display of color over five minutes.

Sunrise/Sunset

Backyard Sunrise

sunrise/sunset

Backyard Sunrise

Front Yard Sunrise 6:25-6:39am

I would have been more than satisfied to start the day with that sunrise from my back yard. Although I can see a small part of the north end of the Sandia Mountains from my front yard, I rarely photograph from there. However, although the basic view is of houses, driveways, and vehicles, the surprise of that sunrise view made me grab my camera!

6:25am

sunrise/sunset

Amazing Clouds and Colors

6:36am

sunrise/sunset

Note You Can Tell Exactly Where the Sun Is Rising

6:37am

sunrise/sunset

Yes, Those Are Crepuscular Rays

6:40am

sunrise/sunset

The Morning Show Is Almost Over

Sunset

What more could one expect from the skies that day? I was more than happy with the offerings of sunrise.

But, I live in New Mexico!

Early sunset gave me this sky, looking west:

sunrise/sunset

The Beginning of Sunset

The day ended with a gently beautiful sunset:

sunrise/sunset

Gentle Sunset

What more could anyone ask from a day of monsoon skies?

07/17/17
monsoon rain

Rain! The Monsoon Rain!

Rain! The Monsoon Rain!

Rain! The monsoon rain arrived at my house this afternoon! Two and a half inches in less than 40 minutes! The rain falling straight down is coming off the roof. The rain at an angle is what was blowing through. And that pond…well, I’m actually happy to see it. The temperature dropped at least 20 degrees on my back porch.

monsoon rain

Monsoon Rain and Pond

My neighborhood slopes downward from the Sandia Mountains on the east to the Rio Grande on the west. Each individual home plot is more or less level, but the yards were designed with a depression precisely for the monsoon rains. They catch the rain and allow it to sink into the ground, rather than running off. Water was running high in the streets, and there was some flash flooding. But the yards just held the excess that fell there until the ground could absorb it.

The area of such heavy rain was fairly small. For those of you who know Albuquerque, the warning was for “around Academy, east of I-25.” I only wish I had gotten some fertilizer out 🙂

I know this image in terms of beauty is not a monsoon sunrise or monsoon sunset image. But for those of us who live in the high desert, a monsoon rain is beautiful and life-giving.

Edited July 18, 2017 to add the following:

1. Southwest Desert Monsoon Season:

Southwestern Monsoon
North American Monsoon (really the Southwestern Monsoon!)

2. Albuquerque’s Localized “Little Rain” 🙂 ))))))))) yesterday

From KOAT TV “Flash Floods Slam Duke City”

07/13/17
stormy sunrise

Stormy Sunrise

Stormy Sunrise: Pink to Orange in Less Than Three Minutes

Stormy sunrise this morning, bringing at least the hope of rain. I did not get rain at my house, but I did enjoy photographing the sky. The gif is made with jpgs straight from the camera with no photo editing other than cropping.

stormy sunrise

Stormy Sunrise

stormy sunrise

Stormy Sunrise

This may not be as impressive as the crepuscular rays at sunset a few nights ago. Nevertheless, as we enter our monsoon season, I am looking forward to seeing – hopefully – many spectacular skies. Some actual rain would also be nice. 🙂

12/13/16
sunset

Summer Sunset

Summer Sunset: December Thoughts

This summer sunset was actually the view looking east. A storm was approaching over the Sandia Mountains. Now, in December, it strikes me as particularly beautiful, and I want to share it.

summer sunset

Sunset, Looking East as Storm Approaches Sandia Mountains

08/11/16

Crepuscular Rays

Crepuscular Rays of Light – Beauty and Brevity

Crepuscular rays of light, “fingers of God,” and other names are beautiful atmospheric optics. August 2016 has been remarkable for their appearance over the Sandia Mountains. I’ve been able to photograph this phenomenon at sunrise twice in less than a week. Of note, many images on the internet were taken at sunset rather than sunrise, and the rays will appear pointing down. (The rays are actually parallel, but that is another discussion.)

This was the first. It was the most dramatic example I have personally ever seen.

crepuscular rays

Crespuscular Rays 6:20:25 am

This is the second. This sunrise was more typical. The rays and sky were “gentle.”

crepuscular rays

Crepuscular Rays 6:25:48 am

Phenomena like this do not last long. Within two minutes, the rays were almost gone.

crepuscular rays

Crepuscular Rays 6:27:34 am

Note that the days are getting shorter. Compare the time of the first image to the time of the second image, just a few days later.

Photographers in Albuquerque know the skies during monsoon season may present even more wonderful opportunities than usual. Many of us remember the summer of 2009 as being full of marvelous skies. This year, friends are capturing amazing images of the lightning storms we have had recently. Sunrises, which I have enjoyed for many years, are proving to be even more remarkable to me this monsoon season of 2016.

Edited to add: Added bonus: a rainbow to the west a little later in the morning!

rainbow

Morning Rainbow to the West

07/31/16
monsoon light

Monsoon Light

Monsoon Light

Monsoon light makes for some remarkable skies here in the high desert. The rain is always welcome. That is especially true this year, which has been very dry to this point. Monsoon season seems to have finally arrived, with heavy rain in some parts of Albuquerque two nights ago and an inch of rain at my house last night. Photographer friends here in Albuquerque remember the monsoon skies of 2009. 2016 may be remembered for its rainbows. Albuquerque has a reputation of sorts for its rainbows, especially the double ones. This has been a great year for rainbows!

Two nights ago I photographed a striking, although single, rainbow. I knew it would develop because of the special monsoon light that appeared as the clouds cleared from the west, with heavy clouds to the east. Anyone who has been here for any length of time and has watched the skies at all knows what this looks like.

monsoon light

Goldfinch Lit Against a Dark Monsoon Sky

7:17pm, MDT. Sun breaking through storm clouds to the west lit this little goldfinch and the branches of a neighbor’s tree dead from the prolonged drought. Heavy, dark clouds covered the mountains to the east. This is the set-up for a rainbow here in Albuquerque. The little spots are not dust on the sensor, but light reflecting off very light drizzle falling at the time.

7:19pm, MDT. A very faint rainbow appeared.

By 7:25pm MDT a magnificent, full arc rainbow had completely developed, persisting for some time.

monsoon light

Rainbow and Sunflowers

I chose this particular evening to focus on the interplay of the monsoon light with things I enjoy in my yard. The large sunflowers are almost ripe with seeds for the birds. This image seems to speak to people with a variety of different beliefs about the cycle of life, with the fading sunflowers that will soon provide nourishment for the birds, and the rainbow, a symbol of hope for people of many different beliefs.

Monsoon light – just one more reason I love living in the high desert of New Mexico.

08/17/15

Some Rainbow! Some Sky!

Some Rainbow! Some Sky!

Tonight’s sky and its rainbow were rare, even by New Mexico standards. Although this view from my house shows a boiling sky with much turbulence up above, there was no wind at my house and, sadly, no rain. Other places nearby, however, got both.

rainbow sky

Some Sky! Some Rainbow!

Several things were unusual about this rainbow. First, it was essentially a single rainbow, in contrast to the many double rainbows seen frequently in Albuquerque. Even triple and quadruple rainbows are not unheard of here. A single rainbow is relatively uncommon.

On close inspection, the rainbow appears not to have a smooth edge or smooth curve, in contrast to what is usually seen. Low clouds were passing by, and light from the sun in the west was broken up in different places by these clouds, giving a somewhat jagged appearance. At one point, the rainbow appeared to be cut in half by a passing cloud.

rainbow sky

Rainbow ‘Cut’ by Cloud

Perhaps the most unusual thing about this rainbow was the length of time it lasted. I do not know how long it was out there before I saw it. I began photographing at 7:15:29 pm, and stopped at 7:36:13 pm. Remnants were still visible near the base when I came in. A minimum of 21 minutes is a very long time for a rainbow to remain visible, at least here in the desert!

Of course, the dominant feature in the sky was the cloud/clouds. For all of that upper level turbulence, it was calm on the ground at my house. And, the whiteness at sunset is somewhat unusual for clouds, even looking east to the Sandia Mountains.

Once again, Albuquerque and New Mexico had an amazing sky. Thanks for your patience with this oft-used phrase, dear readers.